A Long Heritage, The WVU Department of Anesthesiology

The Department of Anesthesiology at West Virginia University is one of the oldest anesthesia departments in the US. The residence training program was first accredited on April 14, 1961 by the predecessor of the Accreditation Committee for Graduate Medical Education.  For the next 6 years, the department existed as the Division of Anesthesiology within the Department of Surgery. Acting on the requests of two successive deans of the School of Medicine, Drs. Clark Sleeth and Frank McKee, university president James Harlow authorized the establishment of an independent Department of Anesthesiology on November 1, 1970. The authorization from Dean McKee states "This action is supported on specific assigned responsibilities to the Department of Anesthesiology for the Operating Rooms, including management and schedules, and for the Recovery Room, in addition to the academic and service activities presently undertaken in the former Divisional organization.

Initially the department had 6 residents and 4 faculty, in addition to numerous adjunct faculty from throughout the state. With the establishment of an independent department, Dr. Herman Turndorf became the first department chair. He was followed by 8 subsequent full time chairs:

Chairs of the WVU Department of Anesthesiology

Herman Turndorf: 1970-1974

Richard Knapp: 1974-1983

Richard Eller: 1983-1989

Edward Stullken: 1990-1993

Robert Johnstone: 1994-2005

Gary Loyd: 2006-2007

David Wilks: 2007-2009

Richard Driver, Jr.: 2009-2013

Manny Vallejo: 2013-2016

Robert Johnstone: 2016-present


The department grew significantly, primarily during the leadership years of Dr. Richard Knapp. During this period, nerve block and pain clinics were opened and the department became active in NIH funded basic science research. A 16 bed ICU was added in 1972, medically directed by the Department of Anesthesiology until the move to Ruby Memorial in 1988.

The department currently has more than 100 credentialed clinicians, and is undergoing another growth spurt, in conjunction with an expanding hospital and state-wide healthcare network, known as WVUMedicine.

Sources: Department Archives. Fleming DA, Grimm J, Schumann P. Generation of Growth. WVU Publ Serv, 1990.

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF RESIDENT EDUCATION