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Remembering E.C. Brock Jr., MD ’52

Prepared for his physician’s career by the Wake Forest School of Medicine, Ernest Cole “E.C.” Brock Jr., MD ’52, returned to his native Alabama and created his own legacy alongside a legend.

That legacy was remembered fondly after his death on Nov. 5, 2016, at age 91 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. For nearly 25 years, between 1959 and 1982, Brock was the team doctor for the University of Alabama (UA) football team, mostly during the tenure of coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

E.C. Brock Jr., MD ’52Born in Fairfield, Ala., Brock joined the United States Air Force when he was 18 years old, taking part in 32 combat missions as a gunner in Guam and Japan.

After returning to the U.S., he accepted a football scholarship at Wake Forest University to play for coach “Peahead” Walker, though his playing career was cut short by a leg injury. Deciding to concentrate on medicine, Brock entered medical school at Wake Forest, later completing a residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Bryant met Brock during that time and invited him to come to Tuscaloosa. Brock and his wife, Hannah, soon moved there to start his own practice, subsequently offering his services to the Crimson Tide. Over the years, Bryant and Brock became close.

“Hannah and my mother went to church together a lot, and my dad and he were good friends,” said Paul Bryant Jr., Bryant’s son and a former member of the board of trustees at Alabama.

John Brodie Croyle, founder of Big Oak Ranch children’s home and a UA defensive end for the school’s 1973 National Championship team, said he owes a lot to Brock. During his freshman year in 1969, Croyle hurt his knee during a drill and was terrified until Brock put him at ease.

“He just said ‘Your knee is really tore up, but I think we can put you back together,’” Croyle said. “I said ‘Yes sir, let’s go.’”

Throughout his football career from 1969 to 1974, Brock would work to get Croyle better.

“He was instrumental in me personally as well as many others having a chance to continue our career,” Croyle said.

Outside of his work with the Crimson Tide, Brock’s career in orthopaedic surgery was commended in the state, and he served a term as president of the Alabama Orthopedic Association.

In 1973, Brock conducted the first knee replacement in the history of Tuscaloosa’s Druid City Hospital. In another case, he and another physician successfully reattached a man’s arm that had been nearly severed. In 1992, Brock retired from medical practice.

Croyle said he respected Brock for all he did with him, on and off the field.

“He didn’t have to be nice to me and he didn’t have to treat me with respect, but he did,” he said. “When I was around him, he was quiet, but when he spoke, I listened, just like I would to coach Bryant.”

Bryant Jr. said Brock was fully invested in UA throughout his adult life, donating generously to the Crimson Tide Foundation and to the athletics program.

“He went to Wake Forest, but he adopted the university living here,” he said. “That was a big part of his life and he stayed involved up until the very end.”

The Brocks’ loyalty extended to Wake Forest as well, according to Teri Lemons, director of alumni development for Wake Forest Baptist.

“Dr. and Mrs. Brock were very proud that they had never missed a class reunion and were hopeful of attending his 65th medical reunion in May,” Lemons said. “They have been annual supporters of the Medical Alumni Association Annual Fund, specifically the MD Class of ’52 Scholarship since his graduation.”

Editor’s note: This article was adapted from a longer story that was published in The Tuscaloosa News on Nov. 7, 2016.

Webb Appointed White House Fellow

Bryant Cameron Webb, JD, MD ’13Bryant Cameron Webb, JD, MD ’13, was one of 16 people in all and one of four physicians named as White House fellows for 2016-17.

The announcement was made in August 2016. Participants are selected for the highly competitive fellowship based on their professional achievements, leadership experience and commitment to public service. White House Fellows participate in national affairs and government through an education program and community service projects throughout the one-year fellowship in Washington, D.C.

Webb is assistant professor in general internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. His work extends beyond the hospital to social justice in medicine. He is the founder and chief executive of EquityRx, which addresses the social determinants of health through research, education and advocacy.

Students Honored for Medical Research

Six MD students received awards for outstanding research posters during the annual Medical Student Research Day in October:

  • Overall First Prize: Tunc Kiymaz, “An Orthopedic-Hospitalist Co-managed Hip Fracture Service Reduces Inpatient Length of Stay”
  • Overall Second Prize: Revathy Sampath-Kumar, “Improved Hepatocyte Function and Reduced Hepatic Steatosis in Absence of Hippo Pathway Effector TAZ”
  • Overall Third Prize: Sarah Vermillion, “Modified Frailty Index Predicts Postoperative Outcomes in Older Gastrointestinal Cancer Patients”
  • Translational Science-T1—Bench to Bedside: Margarita Peterson, “Murine Model for Intraperitoneal Delivery of Folic Acid Targeted Polymer Nanoparticles and Treatment of Colorectal Cancer Metastases”
  • Translational Science-T2—Bedside to Community: Robert Dorrell, “Feasibility of Using Real-time Location Systems in Monitoring Recovery After Major Abdominal Surgery”
  • Meredith Award for Outstanding Health Equity Research: Tesia Oliver, “Sustainability of CPAP in a Regional Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Accra, Ghana”
Tesia Oliver, Revathy Sampath-Kumar, Robert Dorrell, Tunc Kiymaz, Margarita Peterson and Sarah Vermillion

(From left) Tesia Oliver, Revathy Sampath-Kumar, Robert Dorrell, Tunc Kiymaz, Margarita Peterson and Sarah Vermillion

The Medical Student Research Program pairs MD students with faculty mentors for a nine-week research experience. Students present a poster describing their research findings at the Research Day event each October.