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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 12, 2003

UI Surgeon Sandler Appointed To The Robert And Hélène Soper Chair

Anthony Sandler, M.D., University of Iowa associate professor of surgery and chair of the Division of Pediatric Surgery, has been appointed to the Robert and Hélène Soper Chair in Pediatric Surgery.

The Soper Chair was the first endowed chair in the UI Department of Surgery. It was created in 1998 with more than $1.4 million in gifts made through the UI Foundation. The chair honors Robert and Hélène Soper and is designed to support the academic activities of a general surgeon in the UI Department of Surgery thereby enhancing the teaching, research and service missions of the department. Robert Soper, M.D., was a UI professor of surgery until his retirement in 1997.

"It is a great honor for a pediatric surgeon in Iowa to be given the Robert and Hélène Soper Chair in Pediatric Surgery," Sandler said. "Dr. and Mrs. Soper have cared for Iowa children with surgical needs either directly or indirectly with selfless devotion. The incredible impact that they have had on the Division of Pediatric Surgery and on the Department of Surgery makes this honor the highlight of my professional career."

Sandler received his medical degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and completed residencies at UI Hospitals and Clinics and the Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada. Sandler returned to the UI in 1996 as an assistant professor of surgery. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Pediatric Surgical Association. He has published numerous research articles and book chapters, and he has received the annual UI Award for Outstanding Teaching of Surgical Residents on three occasions.

Sandler's clinical and research interests include the surgical care of children, with a special interest in childhood tumors. Sandler is currently working on pre-clinical vaccine strategies for treating these devastating tumors.

"Dr. Sandler is an outstanding pediatric surgeon and is thoroughly deserving of this honor," said Carol Scott-Conner, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor and head of surgery. "The Soper Chair supports the research, clinical and teaching endeavors of the recipient and ensures the continued excellence of these three missions within the department. It is a fitting tribute to Robert and Hélène Soper."

Robert Soper, a native Iowan, received his bachelor's degree from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon. He received his medical degree from the UI. Hélène Soper also received her bachelor's degree, in music, from Cornell College. Robert Soper's career in the UI Department of Surgery spanned almost 30 years from 1968 to 1997. He was considered an exemplary academic physician, combining outstanding surgical skill and patient care with a deep love of and dedication to teaching. Over the years, Robert and Hélène Soper continuously demonstrated their commitment to young trainee-physicians by opening their home to many medical students, more than 45 of whom boarded with the Sopers.

Robert Soper also influenced the world of medicine beyond Iowa. He was a founding member of the American Pediatric Surgical Association, he lectured and taught throughout the world, and he published hundreds of research papers, book chapters and abstracts related to his research. Although he retired in 1997, Robert Soper is a professor emeritus in surgery and still makes teaching rounds.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-335-9917,

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: A photo for this story is available from Jennifer Brown, 319-335-9917,