July 3, 2019 — Dr. James L. Talbert, the founding chief of pediatric surgery at the University of Florida, passed away Monday evening (July 1) at Haven Hospice. He was 87.
Dr. Talbert, an emeritus professor in the department of surgery’s division of pediatric surgery, became UF’s first pediatric surgeon when he joined the UF College of Medicine in 1967. He held the position of chief of pediatric surgery for more than 30 years before his retirement in 1998.
As a UF surgeon, Dr. Talbert developed innovative surgical techniques for the repair of congenital airway lesions and improved systems of care for injured children and children with cancer. Under his leadership, the UF College of Medicine’s division of pediatric surgery expanded and developed into an international leader in innovative pediatric care and research.
After he retired, Dr. Talbert continued to mentor and encourage faculty and students to strive for the same excellence in teaching and research that he achieved during his long and distinguished career. In fact, he recently earned the Arnold M. Salzberg Mentorship Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Talbert earned his medical degree in 1956 from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He completed his general and pediatric surgical residencies at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he served on faculty prior to coming to UF.
To honor Dr. Talbert’s vital contributions to the field of pediatric surgery and the expertise he shared with so many faculty and students over the years, the division of pediatric surgery established the James Lewis Talbert Lectureship in 1998. Through this prestigious lectureship, the division invites top pediatric surgeons from around the world to Gainesville to share their knowledge about the most advanced surgical procedures for children with UF residents and faculty. In April, Dr. Thomas Krummel, the Emile Holman Professor and chair emeritus at Stanford University School of Medicine and co-director of the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, presented a lecture titled “Sustaining Dr. James Talbert’s Legacy of Innovation.”
In 2009, Dr. Talbert was awarded the UF College of Medicine’s Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the college’s Celebration of Research.
Dr. Talbert is survived by his wife, Alice; his daughter, Alison; and his son, David. If you would like to make a gift in honor of Dr. Talbert, the family requests donations be made to the James Lewis Talbert Lectureship.