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2012 Gold Medalist - Dr. Anthony Wilson



Anthony J. Wilson, MBChB, has had a somewhat nomadic life, living in more than 25 different houses, dormitories or apartments, in four different countries, and in four different states. He was born in New Norfolk, a small town in Tasmania, Australia, where his father worked as a professional engineer at a paper mill. When Tony was five years old, his father accepted a job at a new paper mill that was under construction in New Zealand, and the family left Australia. Over the next few years the Wilson family made several moves, as new paper mills were built and new job opportunities developed for Tony’s father. Finally, when Tony was eight years old, they settled in a little town called Kawerau, in the center of New Zealand’s North Island. At that time it was the site of the newest and largest paper mill in the Southern Hemisphere. Tony spent the remainder of his grade school years and his first two years of high school there. At the age of 16, his parents felt he could not get a good education in their small town, so he left home to spend his last two years of high school as a boarder in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Other than spending vacations with his parents, he never returned to Kawerau.

After completing high school, Tony moved to Dunedin in New Zealand’s South Island where he attended university and medical school at the University of Otago. Trips home for vacation now meant two full days of driving through the South and North Islands, with an overnight ferry crossing in between. Consequently, the only time he returned to stay with his parents was during summers. During those visits he worked at various laboring jobs, mostly in the local paper mills, which enabled him pay his way through school and graduate debt free. In his last few university summers, he worked as a boilermaker’s laborer and earned considerably more than he did later as a medical house officer!

During his first week at university, Tony met Carolyn Smith at a dance. The two soon began dating, and after a four year courtship, they were married. Tony thinks that was the best decision he ever made! The following year while Tony was still in medical school, Carolyn worked as an assistant lecturer at the university when their first daughter, Janelle, arrived. Tony, Carolyn and Janelle left Dunedin and moved to Auckland for Tony’s final year of medical school, during which their second daughter, Amanda, was born. Five years later, after completing an internship and a radiology residency, Tony received his certification from the board of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists. The family then moved to the Fiji Islands for three months, so that Tony could work as part of a governmental aid program for underprivileged countries and serve as a staff radiologist at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva.

The family then flew from Fiji to Columbia, Missouri, where Tony worked as a research assistant for five months before beginning a fellowship in musculoskeletal radiology. He worked with Gwilym Lodwick performing NIH-funded research on the computer-aided diagnosis of bone tumors. For the next two years, the NIH continued to partially fund his salary. By the time the grant had run its course, he was promoted to assistant professor, and shortly afterwards, appointed as chief of diagnosis at the University of Missouri-Columbia Medical Center.

Six years after moving to Missouri, Tony accepted a position for the next four years as director of residency training at the University of Connecticut. Moving to a coastal state gave him a chance to indulge his major passion: sailing. For the first year, he found a spot on a racing sailing crew on Long Island Sound. Tony and an emergency physician friend left work early on Wednesday afternoons, drove 1.5 hours to Stamford, raced for three or four hours and then drove back home. Eventually, Tony decided he needed his own boat and purchased a brand new, French built, 32-foot sail boat. Tony, Carolyn and their girls spent a lot of time in that boat, exploring Long Island Sound and the islands and coastal bays of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As part of the deal, Tony got involved with the charter boat industry and soon became a 50% partner in a sailboat brokerage and charter business. He did not make any money in this venture, but he learned a great deal!

Tony was then offered a position at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in St. Louis and was reluctant to leave the coast, but this offer was too good to refuse. In spite of now being landlocked, he found an active sailboat racing club on a lake about 50 miles from St. Louis. He sold his cruising boat and bought an ultra-light racing boat, which he campaigned for several years. At Mallinckrodt, his academic career began to flourish. He finally had discovered to the key to conducting successful clinical studies and publishing the results: great mentors, great facilities and great material! A few years and several publications later, he became an associate professor and the director of emergency radiology of Mallinckrodt.

It was during those years that his relationship with the American Society of Emergency Radiology began. Though not a founding or charter member, Tony attended the second annual meeting and joined the ASER shortly after. He served on the Executive Committee for several years and was annual meeting program chair in 1999. He was selected to deliver the Founders’ Lecture in 2000. In 2004, he served as second vice president, and in 2008-2010, he led the society as president.

After eight years, Tony and Carolyn moved to Seattle to join the faculty at the University of Washington’s Harborview Medical Center. They returned to salt water sailing and explored the waters of Puget Sound and Southwest Canada, including the Vancouver Island's Pacific coast, over the next several years. Tony served as director of musculoskeletal and emergency radiology and associate director of Harborview Radiology for five years. Shortly thereafter, he was given an adjunct appointment in orthopaedic surgery and promoted to professor. He then became director of Harborview Radiology and vice-chairman of the University of Washington’s Department of Radiology. In 2002, he resigned from his leadership positions, sold his sailboat and spent one year on sabbatical as a distinguished scientist at the Armed Forces Institute of Radiology, in Washington DC. His year at the AFIR gave him a chance to spend more time on academics and transfer all of his 35 mm lectures and teaching cases into PowerPoint format. Upon returning to Seattle, he was appointed director of UW radiology informatics. One year later, he resigned from that position and moved into a part-time faculty position.

Shortly after returning to Seattle, Carolyn and Tony purchased a small farm south of the city. They bought a stallion and four mares and proceeded to breed Rocky Mountain Horses. After a few years, the herd grew to 23! Working with horses has meant spending a lot more time with Janelle, whose love of horses caused Tony to return to this sport he had enjoyed as a child.

Since then, Carolyn and Tony have looked forward to summer visits from their second daughter, Amanda, and their five grandsons, whom they visit in New York. In 2007, after commuting between Seattle and the farm weekly for almost three years, Tony and Carolyn sold the Seattle house and moved to the farm full-time. Tony resigned from the university and accepted a position at Madigan Army Medical Center. The herd has gradually decreased to twelve, and these days Tony is spending less time training young horses and more time riding mountain trails with Janelle.

At the time of this writing (2011), Tony's plans were to retire from Madigan to become a full-time farmer.

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