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Dr. Fancis Kostohryz

 UTMB Alumnus Establishes Radiology Residency Fund

As a child growing up in Temple, Texas, Dr. Francis Kostohryz knew that he would one day attend UTMB. “Many of the physicians I had contact with as a kid were graduates of UTMB,” he said. “There was something exotic about going to Galveston.”

Kostohryz fulfilled his dream, enrolling at the university in 1950. While he loved medical school, he also fell in love with the ocean. “I’d see all those ships coming in, so I got the bug to go to sea,” he said.

It was during his second year of medical school that Kostohryz decided to become a merchant marine, figuring he had a great opportunity to see the world while also making a decent salary to help him pay for medical school once he eventually returned to UTMB.

He became part of a workforce that played a pivotal role in Europe’s recovery following World War II. While the conflict had been over for seven years by the time Kostohryz joined the merchant marines, the continent’s population was still in desperate need of food and supplies to rebuild war-torn cities.

Trips aboard the United States’ “Liberty Ships” that were laden with such essentials as coal, wheat and construction materials took a week to 10 days to reach Europe. “The ships would do about 10 knots, going downhill,” Kostohryz quipped.

His journeys to France and Great Britain were eye-opening experiences—Kostohryz was amazed by the considerable wreckage still left from Nazi bombing runs over those countries.

After two years in the merchant marines, he returned to UTMB, having saved enough money to pay for his education. Kostohryz completed his last two years of medical school and graduated in 1956. Immediately after obtaining his M.D., Kostohryz was required to serve two years in the military as was customary at the time. His service ensured an internship, which was needed to obtain a license for residency training.

Kostohryz joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in San Diego. After his stint in California was completed, he moved to the East Coast. “I had considered becoming a flight surgeon, but I didn’t have 20/20 vision,” he said. “I applied for submarine school in New London, Conn., and became a squadron medical officer for two years.” He explained a squadron comprises the crews of 12 submarines.

Kostohryz spent a year at a submarine research laboratory, which studied the effects of diving and helium on humans. Kostohryz also conducted physicals on sailors who applied for submarine duty.

While stationed at a Key West, Fla., naval station, he found his calling in radiology and returned to UTMB for his residency. He completed his radiology training in New York City and then worked at a naval hospital in Portsmouth, Va. Kostohryz eventually joined the faculty at a Memphis, Tenn., naval hospital where he remained for four years before retiring from the navy.

About two years ago, he attended Homecoming events at UTMB and listened to Dr. David L. Callender, the university’s president, discuss the urgent need for more paid residencies in Texas, a state with an insufficient ratio of doctors to patients. Young physicians in their residencies tend to remain in the area where they complete their training.

Dr. Callender’s discussion struck a chord within Kostohryz and, through the encouragement of a friend, he established the Francis T. Kostohryz, M.D. Residency Fund in Radiology at UTMB. The fund provides seed money for residents’ research projects and covers the costs of their attendance at medical conferences, as well as other educational needs.

Kostohryz said he is forever grateful to the university. “I appreciate the school for being generous to me, letting me serve for a time in the merchant marines. That obviously changed my life, being able to complete my M.D.”

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