The Department of Radiology & Radiological Sciences

Henry P. Pendergrass, M.D.

Emeritus Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences
1992 Endowed Chair

Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass

Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass
Professors of Radiology and Radiological Sciences 


The Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Chair in Radiology serves as a tribute to the achievements of Henry Pancoast Pendergrass, M.D. and his late first wife, Carol, which was endowed by the Pendergrass family in 1992.  It is the first named chair in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences. Its establishment enhances the department’s many programs through the appointment of an internationally respected radiologist to the chair giving distinction to the department as other outstanding faculty, trainees and students, eager to work with the best are attracted to Vanderbilt.

The Pendergrass Chair in Radiology honors a gifted professor of radiology and radiological science who served Vanderbilt and the profession with distinction. Research by Dr. Pendergrass in the early diagnosis and detection of disease through medical imaging along with his involvement in post-graduate and continuing medical education helped establish the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt as one of the nation’s leading centers for radiological research, education and patient care. The establishment of an endowed chair honors Dr. Pendergrass and is a fitting tribute to his numerous and varied accomplishments ensuring that his legacy lives on at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
Henry Pendergrass was born in Gladwyne, PA. He received his education first at the Haverford School (Haverford, PA) and subsequently from Princeton University (NJ) and The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (PA). He completed his internship at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and a residency in radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1953.
Encouraged by his father, Dr Eugene P. Pendergrass, who was chairman of the Department of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and who pioneered the use of x-rays to diagnose occupational lung disease, Dr Henry P. Pendergrass became an internationally recognized expert in pulmonary diagnosis, particularly in occupational lung disease in miners and other workers exposed to toxic materials. He was able to use all the advanced radiologic techniques in making the diagnoses and established the basis for evaluation and follow-up of these patients. He was highly admired by his patients, as well as by his friends and colleagues around the world.
After 5 years on the radiology staff at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined the staff of the Department of Radiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in 1958 and was professor at Harvard Medical School. While at Massachusetts General Hospital, he received an MPH degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. He also completed a fellowship at the Queen's Square Neurological Institute in London, England.
In 1976, Henry joined the faculty in the Department of Radiology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, TN, where he held a wide variety of clinical and academic assignments and subsequently became vice-chairman of the department. He was involved in many medical, educational and research programs and had numerous articles widely published in peer-review journals. He was especially proud, his family said, of an article published in 1964 in the New England Journal of Medicine about his work in Peru while aboard the medical mission ship, SS Hope.
Dr. Pendergrass served as president of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and as a chancellor of the American College of Radiology. He was a founding trustee of the RSNA Research and Education Foundation, which grants fellowship to promising researchers.  . In addition, he was active in the American Medical Association in supporting the specialty of radiology. He received the Gold Medal for outstanding service in radiology from both the RSNA and the American College of Radiology. He also received the gold medal from the American Medical Association for distinguished service to medicine.
In 1993, Dr. Pendergrass' first wife, Carol Dodson Pendergrass, and their two oldest daughters, Lisa Johnson and Sharon Batey, were killed in a hot-air ballooning accident near Aspen, CO, where they were vacationing.  
In 1995, he became emeritus professor in the Department of Radiology at Vanderbilt University. On his return to Philadelphia, Dr. Pendergrass was adjunct professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for several years until the late 1990s. He retired in Gladwyne, Penn.  He died of pneumonia at the age of 83 on September 20, 2010 after living out his final days in Bryn Mawr, PA.  
Dr. Pendergrass is survived by his second wife, Carol Minster Pendergrass. They had grown up together near Bryn Mawr and reconnected through mutual friends after both lost spouses. Dr. Pendergrass is also survived by daughters Deborah Reaves and Margaret Sanders; stepchildren Yardly Jenkins and James and Frank Roberts; and eight grandchildren.
The numerous contributions that Dr. Pendergrass has made to medicine and to radiology stand as a beacon of wisdom, dedication and innovation around the world. He was a respected mentor, a dedicated friend, and a man who always was interested in supporting young people in their development and careers.
“Henry was a great contributor to the field of Radiology and more specifically to Vanderbilt. Henry was an accomplished chest radiologist, teacher and true humanitarian,” said Martin Sandler, M.D., chair of the department from 2000-2006.  

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