Longtime educator Dr. Edward Singleton honored for contributions

Oct. 1, 2011

Dr. Edward Singleton pictured from 1964
Dr. Edward Singleton pictured in 1964

If you ask pediatric radiologist Dr. Edward Singleton about his greatest accomplishment during his 60-plus year career at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital, he doesn't hesitate to answer: "Teaching has been the most enjoyable aspect of my career."

The enjoyment of teaching is probably why Singleton – now chief emeritus of radiology at BCM and a few weeks shy of his 91st birthday – still teaches residents daily.

He also reviews radiographic studies in pediatric radiology daily.

Though he has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards throughout his career, for the first time he received the BCM Excellence in Teaching Award for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Singleton has contributed much to the academic and clinical programs of both BCM and Texas Children's since joining the institutions in 1953 (he was the first physician on staff at Texas Children's when it opened).

An alumnus of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, he just completed his residency training at the University of Michigan, under Dr. Jack Holt, a man who he calls one of his greatest mentors and influences on his choice to become a pediatric radiologist.

Another major influence – if not the greatest – was his father, Dr. Albert Singleton, who served as chair of surgery at UTMB.

"I heard about these two hospitals opening (Texas Children's and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital), but I never thought I would get the job," said Singleton. The job was to serve as chief of radiology at both hospitals, which at the time shared an x-ray department.

Singleton would end up getting the job and soon after joining the BCM faculty.

Perspective on change

Dr. Edward Singleton
Dr. Edward Singleton

"When I chose this specialty, there really was no such thing as a specialty of pediatric radiology," said Singleton. "But I had a great interest in it, and there were many opportunities for me at Texas Children's and Baylor to be productive in the field."

He noted some of the major advances in X-ray technology over time.

"What used to take several minutes to get an image now takes milliseconds. We do not need darkrooms anymore to develop film," said Singleton. "We've worked to decrease radiation exposure and get better quality images."

He noted the remarkable progression from plain films to ultrasound to CAT scans, MRIs and now digital imaging.

Singleton is still honored to share his experiences with the residents he teaches daily. "It's more meaningful now than ever," said Singleton. "I'm told I am getting good grades too, since now the students grade their mentors."

And when asked how the students have changed over the years – "The dress code has deteriorated, but these students are brighter and better trained each year."

Special award

This most recent teaching award was extra special, Singleton said. "To be presented with the award, with that many friends and colleagues in attendance, I was so appreciative."

Dr. Mark Kline, chair of pediatrics at BCM and physician-in-chief at Texas Children's Hospital, presented Singleton with the award during BCM's department of pediatrics faculty meeting Aug. 4, 2011.

Singleton will celebrate his 91st birthday on Oct. 22, 2011.