Our colleague, Keith Amos, passed away, suddenly, on June 17, 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland, while on a Dr. Claude Organ, Jr. Travel Award from the American College of Surgeons. Keith was a treasured member of the academic surgical community. His colleagues and, especially, his patients, to whom he was truly dedicated, will sorely miss him. He was a caring doctor, an avid researcher, an engaged collaborator, and just, simply, a terrific human being. Although his time with us was brief, Keith has provided a legacy of excellence that will live in all of us who had the fortune of knowing him.
Keith was a native of Minden, Louisiana and a graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans. He became interested in biomedical research as a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar at Xavier and was selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Cloister Program fellow while a student at Harvard Medical School. Keith became fascinated with the fields of cancer and immunology while working in Dr. Steven Rosenberg’s laboratory at the National Cancer Institute. These interests would form the foundation of his career.
Upon his graduation from Harvard, Dr. Amos gained a residency in General Surgery at Washington University Barnes- Jewish Hospital. He not only honed his surgical skills as a resident, but he continued his growth in surgical research in the laboratory of his mentor, Dr. Tim Eberlein. Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing “The Professor” understood his love for teaching — a skill that earned him the Resident Teaching Award for four consecutive years.
Keith was recruited to the University of North Carolina in 2007 following a fellowship in surgical oncology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He said that one of the things that drew him there was a plaque located in the lobby of North Carolina Memorial Hospital that reads as follows: “Operated For and By the People of North Carolina”. He said, “I think that’s a really powerful statement. I think one of the things that attracted me to UNC is that it is a state institution. We, as physicians, have an obligation to care for and to educate citizens about their health problems.”
Keith was a true community leader with a passion for educating communities about cancer, the importance of cancer screening and cancer disparities. He traveled across the state of North Carolina speaking to numerous groups, which always appreciated, and were impressed by, his commitment and dedication. His roles in community leadership earned him the University of North Carolina Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award and the Village Pride Hometown Hero Award.
We are all holding in our thoughts his wife, Ahaji, and their three daughters: Hunter, Logan and Daren.