The Department of Radiology is mourning the loss of Dr Irvin Franklin “Dick” Hawkins, Jr – Professor of Vascular and Interventional Radiology. Dr Hawkins passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.
It is with great sadness that we recognize the sudden passing of one of the University of Florida’s most esteemed physicians, Irvin Franklin “Dick” Hawkins, M.D., professor of radiology and surgery.
Dr. Hawkins had a profoundly positive impact on the field of interventional radiology throughout a career at UF that spanned five decades. His work includes the innovation and improvement of literally hundreds of procedures that are in use today. He is the original author of hundreds of peer-reviewed journal papers and of numerous textbooks. He also authored or co-authored countless book chapters and is recognized by societies both nationally and internationally as a driving force in the field of interventional radiology.
Dr. Hawkins received numerous national and international awards in both radiology and surgery. Perhaps his crowning achievement was his receiving the very first “Innovators Award” in 2002 by the International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy, which is one of the most prestigious organizations representing vascular and interventional radiology in the world.
Dr. Hawkins was born in Baltimore in 1936. He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Maryland in 1958 and also a medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1962. He then completed an internship at the prestigious Mercy Hospital in San Diego and was a captain in the U.S. Air Force from 1963-1965. He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology at the Ohio State University from 1965-1968. Dr. Hawkins began his career at the UF College of Medicine in 1968 as the NIH fellow and special trainee in cardiovascular radiology and became chief of interventional radiology in 1969, a position he held for the next 30 years. He advanced to professor of radiology in 1976, as well as professor of surgery in 1981. He was board-certified by the American Board of Radiology in 1969 and was a member of numerous local, national and international societies.
Dr. Hawkins’ contributions to the field of interventional radiology are truly remarkable. He is perhaps best known for developing carbon dioxide angiography. This technique is widely used today and, in fact, is gaining popularity due to cost concerns and nephrotoxic effects of other contrast and imaging agents. Another major advance was his proving that reduction in catheter size reduced complication rates as well as made every anatomic location in the body accessible to minimally invasive techniques. Dr. Hawkins pioneered the 3 Fr catheter at UF nearly 30 years ago when other physicians were using 9 Fr catheters. Because of this advance, fields such as interventional cardiology and interventional neuroradiology have flourished and have helped millions of patients throughout the world. Other innovations include the development of the blunt needle system, which greatly reduces the risk of bleeding, co-axial needle guide systems, which improve the ability to reach specific locations in the body, the accordion drainage system, micro-needle TIPS set, the specialized needle for breast mass localization, and he was the first physician in the world to safely perform a percutaneous cholecystostomy more than 30 years ago, among many other techniques. All of these innovations are still widely used today and are firmly established in the use of core interventional radiology procedures.
Dr. Hawkins received numerous awards from throughout the world in recognition of his accomplishments in pioneering techniques and innovations as well as his commitment to improved patient care through reduced complication rates. He won the “Silver Award” from the American Roentgen Ray Society in 1983 for CO2 angiography and digital subtraction radiology. He was named the “Grand Champion of Exhibits” by the Association of University Radiologists in 1983 for the retrograde transcutaneous nephrostomy technique. He also won the prestigious “Gold Medal” from the American Roentgen Ray Society in 1984. He was awarded the first “Innovators Award” by the International Society of Endovascular Therapy in 2002. Additionally, he won the first “Innovators Award” from the Society of Interventional Radiologists in 2003, the largest organization of interventional radiologists in the world. Both of these awards are of great significance in the international community. He was the 2010 recipient of UF’s College of Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award. Further evidence of his accomplishments came in March 2010 when Dr. Hawkins was awarded the “Gold Medal” by the Society of Interventional Radiology. Only a handful of radiologists in the world have received this honor.
In addition to the previously described innovations, awards and pioneering techniques, Dr. Hawkins always sought to teach his students not only the fundamentals of interventional radiology but also his approach to medical innovation, stressing open-minded and creative thinking. As a result of his dedication to the field and teaching, many residents and fellows have been inspired to follow in his footsteps and improve the lives of many patients. He was well liked by his peers and continued to be actively involved in the department, hosting monthly journal clubs, interventional clubs and case review sessions at his home on Lake Wauburg. Most recently, he was elected Professor Emeritus at UF in a unanimous vote.
In his personal life, Dr. Hawkins is survived by his wife Kitty, his sister, three children and 11 grandchildren. While his passion in life was innovating medical devices and new techniques to improve the lives of his patients, he also enjoyed many extracurricular activities. He was a former nationally top ranked water skier and continued to ski until the time of death. Other hobbies included traveling, scuba diving, playing the piano, singing and playing racquetball with his friends.
In short, Dr. Hawkins built a reputation of global significance in the field of interventional radiology, bringing international acclaim to the UF College of Medicine during his career. Only a small number of examples of achievements have been listed in this tribute, which attests to the accomplishments of this amazing man. While his death came too soon, we can take comfort in knowing that he lived life every day doing exactly what he loved doing, surrounded by family and his friends.
To make a memorial gift in honor of Dr. Hawkins, contributions may be made to the Irvin “Dick” Hawkins, M.D., Fund. We hope to raise enough funding to establish an endowed academic fellowship in Dr. Hawkins’ name.
Please make checks payable to the UF Foundation and send to:
Troy L Munn
Senior Director of Development and Alumni Affairs
College of Medicine
University of Florida
PO Box 100243
Gainesville, FL 32610 – 0243
Please include Hawkins Fund #012787 on the memo section of your check.