About Virginia Kneeland Frantz

​The Virginia Kneeland Frantz Society for Women Faculty

Dr. Frantz, a 1922 graduate of VP&S, was the first woman to pursue an internship in surgery at what is now NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and to become president of the American Thyroid Association. She was considered a giant in surgical pathology at VP&S and elsewhere, and remained at Columbia despite an offer in the middle of her career to become president of Bryn Mawr College, which was her undergraduate alma mater. She made several scientific and clinical contributions during her career.

With an interest in the thyroid, she founded a multidisciplinary thyroid clinic at Columbia. She made a series of discoveries related to the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid, breast and pancreatic tumors, and she published an account of pancreatic tumors for the Armed Forces Atlas of Tumor Pathology that soon became the standard text on the subject. She was also one of the first to prove the usefulness of radioactive iodine in the diagnosis and treatment of metastatic thyroid cancer.

She made a mark as a member of the surgical pathology team at Columbia. Dr. Frantz and famed surgeon Allen O. Whipple were the first to describe the insulin-secretion of pancreatic tumors. During World War II, she studied the control of bleeding during surgery with Dr. Raffaele Lattes, leading to the discovery of oxidized cellulose as an aid to wound healing that could be absorbed by the body. For this work, she received the Army-Navy Certificate of Appreciation for Civilian Service. Dr. Frantz retired from VP&S in 1962.