Dedication to John Emans, MD. and Mike Millis, MD.
By: Peter M. Waters, MD.

John Emans and Mike Millis began their parallel professional journeys as undergraduate classmates at Harvard College. Mike as a biology major, captain of the Harvard golf team, and member of Dunster House; John as a biochemistry major, member of the Harvard ski team and Kirkland House. Both were honors graduates in 1966. Their life-time of professional alliance and education began in the Harvard Medical School class of 1970. Shortly after starting medical school, John began dating their former college and then first year classmate, Jean Herriot. Mike claims she was the smartest in their class and by breaking conservative traditions and marrying Jean at the end of their first year of medical school, John showed way back then both his unorthodox approach to problem solving and well-recognized exceptional judgment. Their first professional separation was when Mike did his general surgery training in Cleveland and John stayed on at the Peter Bent Brigham. Obviously missing one another and all things Harvard, they rejoined forces during their residency training in our very same Harvard Combined Orthopedic Surgery program. During Mike’s adult orthopedic rotation in 1973 at the MGH, he met his future wife Jill Blum, an intern social service case worker on White 5. They were married in 1981. Mike and John’s second and final professional separation came with their military obligations through the Berry plan. Mike to Charleston, South Carolina and John to Fort Devens here in Massachusetts. Both returned to Boston and Harvard as young attending pediatric orthopedic surgeons under the leadership of Dr. John Hall. Their remarkable careers and immense clinical and educational contributions began here at Children’s Hospital, Boston, in 1978. Their respective marriages grew into wonderful families with the additions of Kate and Matt Emans; Amanda and Jonathan Millis.

Each began their clinical and academic career in the 1980’s on the traditional pathway of caring for all varieties of pediatric orthopedic surgery problems, large and small. Their early papers were on a spectrum of developmental, infectious, and post-traumatic entities including an important joint authorship paper on slipped capital femoral epiphysis assessment with Cohen, Gelberman, Griffin, Kasser, Emans, and Millis in 1986. However, by then, Millis was an “A team” Monday, Wednesday, Friday surgeon with Drs Hall and Micheli; Emans a “B team” player with Tuesday, Thursday surgery with Drs. Kasser and Waters. Their different perspectives, strengths, and solutions were evident in the endless conversations and debates at radiology rounds, fellows and indications conferences. One of the most remarkable features of their professional careers and indeed, all the attending staff interactions at Children’s, is that they felt free to disagree professionally without ever getting personal. Under the leadership of Drs Hall and Kasser, these disagreements and differences have led to studies, presentations, publications and further discussions. It has fostered an openness about the limits of our knowledge base, the biases we all bring to the problem, and a team approach to better analysis. It has opened the eyes and minds of residents and fellows here for years, making them feel comfortable with the concept that orthopedic surgery is a life-time of learning.

By the 1990’s, each became more sub-specialized in their clinical and academic endeavors. Mike in the area of developmental dysplasia of the hip and John in spine surgery and chest wall deformities. They have grown to be world renown in their areas of expertise. Each meticulous, courageous, and empathic in their own unique ways. The more complex the problem, the more likely the patient would ultimately end up in their office, their operating room. Their solutions have grown from concepts to generalized protocols with levels of evidence studies. Mike with periacetabular osteotomies and his collaborative analysis first with Wagner, then Ganz, then his own modifications locally with Steve Murphy and now Young-jo Kim; John with his unique use of complex instrumentation for congenital scoliosis and on the forefront of Bob Campbell’s VEPTR surgical care. They have grown a community of pediatric orthopedic surgeons who have trained with them, visited them, referred patients to them. They have inspired several generations of Harvard Orthopedic Surgery residents, many of whom are now colleagues and friends. Their recognition by this dedication is well-deserved, although I am sure both will demurr to others and down play their role in all our lives. It is with great honor that I help the graduating class of 2007 dedicate this year’s Harvard Orthopedic Journal to John B. Emans and Michael B. Millis.




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