Dr. Lois Ellison

The Lois T. Ellison Lectureship was established in 2011 in the Department of Physiology as a lasting tribute to its namesake. The establishment of this lectureship through the Medical College of Georgia Foundation, Inc. enables the department to bring outstanding and established leaders in physiology to the Augusta campus.  It is expected that visiting lecturers will have an opportunity to exchange work and ideas with local researchers, while inspiring students and young investigators.

Dr. Ellison was an internationally recognized physiologist, the first female postdoctoral fellow in the department, and one of the longest serving faculty members in Augusta University's history.  She devoted more than a half-century of service to the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and was featured in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Library of Medicine's exhibition: Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America’s Women Physicians.

The Physiology Trainees are responsible for the nominations and election of guest speakers as well as for the organization of the lecture.

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Dr. Lois Taylor Ellison, a clinician, researcher, educator and administrator whose 75-plus-year affiliation with the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) left a lasting legacy on the institution and on health care in general. She was a pioneer as a woman in medicine and science, and is rightfully regarded as the matriarch of the MCG. Dr. Ellison, a native of Fort Valley, Georgia, was the daughter of Robert James Taylor and Annie Maude Anderson Taylor. She was the editor of her high school paper, captain of the basketball and tennis teams and winner of the Georgia State High School Singles Tennis Championship before graduating as an honor graduate and commencement speaker at Athens High School in Athens, Georgia.

She continued her education at the University of Georgia, earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry and zoology in less than three years rather than the standard four. At UGA she participated in many extracurricular activities. She was the president of the Z Club and Mortar Board, secretary of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, staff member and columnist of the Red and Black weekly student newspaper and was named to Who's Who in American Universities and Colleges. In 1943 she enrolled in the MCG School of Medicine, one of four females in a class of 78 students. Her medical education was interrupted by a battle with tuberculosis, but she persevered and graduated in 1950.

After completing a cardiopulmonary physiology fellowship under the mentorship of Dr. William Hamilton, Dr. Ellison became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology in 1956 and subsequently rose through the academic ranks to become a Professor in Medicine, Surgery and Graduate Studies in 1968. Together with her husband, Dr. Robert G. Ellison, who served as the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the MCG for 32 years, she developed the cardiopulmonary laboratory, where the first MCG’s cardiac catheterizations and blood gas measurements were performed. These historic advances in the MCG were made possible by the invention of the ingenious Hamilton manometer by Dr. Hamilton, who used an optical membrane to measure intravascular pressures. Dr. Ellison served as a director of the cardiopulmonary laboratory until 1992. She published 73 articles in scientific journals and made numerous presentations at meetings primarily related to preoperative and postoperative studies, open-heart surgery, alveolar surfactant and cardiovascular and pulmonary physiology.

In the 1970s, Dr. Ellison's career began to shift into administration. In 1974, she was named associate dean for curriculum in the MCG School of Medicine and a year later – a provost and vice-president of academic affairs, second in line to then-president William Moretz, making her the highest-ranking female in U.S. medical schools. As the MCG continued to grow, her next role was to oversee the expansion of clinical facilities (hospitals and clinics) as the associate vice president for planning. Campus additions during her tenure included the Ambulatory Care Center/Specialized Care Center and the Children's Hospital of Georgia.

Dr. Ellison retired as a Professor Emeritus and Provost Emeritus in 2000, but stayed on as the MCG's Medical Historian in Residence until her death in 2019. She meticulously gathered and chronicled materials about the university's heritage, including writing the publication "Moments in History" in observance of MCG's 175th anniversary.

Dr. Ellison’s influence extended far beyond the confines of campus. She was a past president of the Georgia Thoracic Society, the American Lung Association of Georgia and the Georgia affiliate of the American Heart Association. She served as the president of the American Lung Association. She was a charter member of the Board of Directors of the MCG Research Institute and served as a vice president and treasurer. Dr. Ellison was a member of the Board of Directors of the MCG School of Medicine Alumni Association, serving as its first female president in 1988-89. Dr. Ellison was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor Society and Sigma Xi and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the Widow's Home, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Augusta, Junior Achievement of Augusta and the YMCA of Augusta.

In recognition of her outstanding achievements, Dr. Ellison has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Research Career Award from the National Heart Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the MCG Woman of Excellence Award in Health, the MCG School of Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award, the MCG School of Medicine Distinguished Alumnus Award and the highest honor of the American Lung Association – Will Ross Medal. She and her late husband were jointly awarded the MCG Vessel of Life Award in 2005, the highest recognition offered by the MCG. Dr. Ellison was named a research fellow and established investigator of the Georgia Heart Association and featured in the 2003 NIH National Library of Medicine exhibition “Changing the Face of Medicine – Celebrating America’s Women Physicians”. She was recognized by the Board of Regents as the outstanding alumna of the University System of Georgia in 2009 and by the people of Georgia by resolution of the Georgia State Senate in 2016 for her lifetime achievement in Medicine. Dr. Ellison’s impressive career will undoubtedly continue to inspire new generations of scholars at Augusta University to persevere in pursuing their goals and achieving professional excellence.


Past Lectures:

2019 - Karen A. Griffin, MD, FAHA, FASN, FACP, Loyola University Medical Center
2018 - Meredith Hay, PhD, The University of Arizona
2017 - Kathryn Sandberg, PhD, Georgetown University
2016 - Virginia M. Miller, MBA, PhD, Mayo Clinic
2015 - Stephanie Watts, PhD, Michigan State University
2014 - Dorris Taylor, Texas Heart Institute, Baylor St Luke's Medical Center
2013 - Donna Arnett, University of Alabama, Former President of the American Heart Association
2012 - Sue Barman, Michigan State University, President of the American Physiological Society
2011 - Marlene Rabinovitch, Stanford University School of Medicine