Department of Surgery

Previous Chairs of the Department


photo of dan w. elliott, m.d.Dan W. Elliott, M.D.

Founding Chair and Professor Emeritus of Surgery
Program Director, General Surgery Residency
Wright State University Department of Surgery, 1976-1988

Dr. Elliott was a native of Greenville, Ohio, the son of James Scott and LaVirge Whitacre Elliott. He attended the Ohio State University 1941-43, and served as a medical corpsman during World War II. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine in 1949, winning that year's Campbell Prize for highest grades. An internship followed at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City (1949-51), and then served as a medical officer during the Korean War (Captain U.S. Air Force 1951-53). He completed his specialty training in general surgery at Ohio State University in 1957 in a program headed by the renowned Dr. Robert M. Zollinger, who greatly influenced his future career and decision to practice surgery in a medical school setting. He joined the faculty at Ohio State, becoming Professor of Surgery by 1963, and began his research on pancreatic and biliary diseases.

During his career he published 105 research papers or textbook chapters. He moved to the University of Pittsburgh in 1964, becoming Professor of Surgery and Chief of Surgical Services at the Western Pennsylvania Hospital (1964-70), and then at the Veterans Hospital (1970-76).

He came to Dayton in 1976 to help found the new medical school at Wright State University, becoming professor and first chair of its Department of Surgery. Early in his tenure full accreditation was achieved for the integrated five-year residency program in general surgery sponsored by Wright State University with the full cooperation of all seven Dayton hospitals. He directed this program for 45 surgical residents until his retirement at the end of 1988. He was certified by the American Board of Surgery, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of a number of national surgical organizations, including the Society of University Surgeons, and the American, Western and Central Surgical Associations. He was president of the Central Surgical Association in 1987. In Dayton he was a member and deacon at the Westminster Presbyterian Church and treasurer of The Discussion Club. Dr. Elliott passed away at his home on August 1, 2004.


photo of james b. peoples, m.d.James B. Peoples, M.D.

Elizabeth Berry Gray Chair and Professor of Surgery
Program Director, General Surgery Residency
Wright State University Department of Surgery, 1988-2002

Dr. Peoples was professor of surgery, the Elizabeth Berry Gray Chair of Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine's Department of Surgery, and director of the region's general surgery residency program.

A native of Altoona, Pennsylvania, Dr. Peoples received an A.B. degree in Chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and an M.D. degree from New York University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in surgery at University of Pittsburgh's Hospitals of Health Center in Pittsburgh. He completed post-graduate continuing education in the Program for Chiefs of Clinical Services at Harvard School of Public Health in 1991 and 1996.

From 1977-1979, Peoples was a major in the Medical Corps of the United States Army where he was stationed at the 121st Evacuation Hospital in Seoul, Korea, and at Kimbrough Army Hospital in Ft. Meade, Maryland. He received the Army Commendation Medal for his service. He was recruited by Dr. Dan Elliott, the founding chair, to join the full time faculty at Wright State University in 1979.

In 1988, Dr. Peoples served as acting chair of the Department of Surgery and was named chair of the department in 1990. Since 1988, he also served as director of one of the largest general surgery programs in the United States. The program trains seven physicians in each year of the five-year program and received a "perfect report card" from its accrediting body in 2001. Dr. Peoples was instrumental in training thousands of physicians and medical students in surgical procedures, and he was regarded as an international authority on surgical diseases. In 2000, he was named the first Elizabeth Berry Gray Chair of Surgery.

Board certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Surgery, Dr. Peoples was a member of several professional societies: the Association for Academic Surgery, Association of Program Directors in Surgery, Association for Surgical Education, Collegium Internationale Chirurgiae Digestivae, Dayton Surgical Society, Dayton Vascular Surgical Society, Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, International Society of Surgery, Midwest Surgical Association, the Montgomery County Medical Society, Ohio State Medical Association, the Pancreas Club, the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, and the Western Surgical Association. In addition, he served on the Program Committee of the Central Surgical Association from 1996-1999 and was that committee's chair from 1998-1999. He was a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons and an Honorary Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons.

A recipient of many honors, Dr. Peoples was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, received the Pittsburgh Surgical Society's Residents Award and the American College of Surgeons, Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter's Residents Award, and was named in Who's Who in the Midwest. Through peer nomination, he was included in The Best Doctors in America: Midwest Region from 1996-2002. He received the House Staff Teaching Award from Miami Valley Hospital in 1996 and was elected to the medical honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha, in 1997.

Throughout Dr. Peoples career, he authored numerous articles on a wide variety of surgical diseases, and from 1996-1998, he studied the early detection of breast and cervical cancer through a grant from the Center for Disease Control.

Dr. Peoples was very active in the community as well. He served on the Medical Advisory Board of the Community Blood Center of Montgomery County since 1992. He was on the Taste & Toast Committee of the Planned Parenthood Association of the Miami Valley since 1995, and was co-chair from 1996-1997. He was also a dedicated supporter of the Dayton Art Institute. Dr. Peoples passed away after an accident on July 19, 2002.


photo of alex g. littleAlex G. Little, M.D.

Elizabeth Berry Gray Chair and Professor of Surgery
Wright State University Department of Surgery, 2003 to 2010

A Georgia native, Dr. Little received his undergraduate education from the University of North Carolina. He holds an M.D. degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Following two years of residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he completed his residency training in general and thoracic surgery at the University of Chicago where he also spent a research year in the field of esophageal physiology with David B. Skinner, M.D. Dr. Little is certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. Little served as a faculty member and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Chicago until 1988, when he was appointed professor and chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. He served in that position for 14 years until his appointment as professor and Elizabeth Berry Gray Chair of Surgery at Wright State University School of Medicine, September 1, 2003. He served in that position until April 2010.

Dr. Little's clinical and academic interests relate to the field of general thoracic surgery, the surgical treatment of lung cancer, esophageal cancer, and benign esophageal diseases, including laparoscopic surgery for gastroesophageal reflux disease and hiatal hernia. He was chosen as an outstanding physician by two Las Vegas publications and has twice been included in Good Housekeeping's list of "Best Cancer Surgeons in America."

Dr. Little has served as a visiting professor at 30 institutions and is a member of 27 international, national, and regional medical societies, including the American Surgical Association, American College of Surgeons, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Halsted Society, and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery. He served as president of the American College of Chest Physicians. A prolific writer, Dr. Little has published more than 120 scientific articles, 75 book chapters and has edited/coedited four books.

Last edited on 01/28/2015.