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In Memoriam

Norman D. Nigro, M.D.


1912 - 2009


ASCRS Past President Dr. Norman D. Nigro, Scottsdale, AZ, died Thursday, August 27th following a prolonged illness.   He was 97 years old.


Dr. Norman Nigro is recognized for his many contributions to the care of patients with diseases of the colon and rectum; for his significant research in the prevention of large bowel cancer and for his leadership role in his chosen specialty and allied medical organizations.  Dr. Nigro has generously contributed many years of dedication and service to the specialty through his activities in the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery (ABCRS).


Dr. Nigro was Clinical Professor of Surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine, Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery.  He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and an Honorary Fellow of ASCRS as well as an Honorary Member of the Royal Society of Medicine, Section of Proctology.  He held memberships in numerous medical organizations including the Michigan Cancer Foundation, the International Society of University Colon and Rectal Surgeons, and was past Secretary of the Section on Colon and Rectal Surgery of the American Medical Association (AMA).   Dr. Nigro held appointments to the AMA, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, as a voting member to the American Board of Medical Specialties and as a member on the Residency Review Committee for Colon and Rectal Surgery.  He was also a member of the Executive Committee for the Study on Surgical Services for the United States.


Dr. Nigro directed the Large Bowel Cancer Unit which he established at Wayne State University, Department of Surgery in 1968.   The unit has been a major contributor to research in etiology and prevention of cancer of the large bowel in the animal model.   His research investigating the relationship of dietary factors in intestinal carcinogenesis, particularly the effects of fat and fiber are well known, and he frequently lectured on this subject both in this country and abroad.   In honor of his dedication and leadership in cancer research, the ASCRS  dedicated an annual Research Lectureship in his name.   The lectureship is sponsored by the Society’s Research Foundation and is presented annually at the ASCRS Annual Meeting.


Dr Nigro's unique contribution advancing "the multimodality treatment of anal cancer" is immortalized in the literature as the Nigro Protocol.


Dr. Nigro has received numerous honors and awards for his publications and achievements, and these include the Michigan Cancer Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award, the Harry E. Bacon Foundation Award, the New York Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons Award and nominations for the Rodman E. Sheen and Thomas G. Sheen Award of the AMA.


In addition to his full‑time commitment to the practice of colon and rectal surgery and his extensive research activities, Dr. Nigro served as Secretary and President of the ASCRS, and later, as Secretary‑Treasurer/Executive Director of the ABCRS for 14 years and left a significant mark on all aspects of the Board’s activities.  In particular, he strived to improve the Board’s examination/certification system and his guidance inspired many changes.   Foremost, were his early efforts which lead to a significant change in the Board’s entry requirements for certification, ‑‑ passing the American Board of Surgery Qualifying Examination prior to admittance to the ABCRS examinations.   Additionally, in 1987, the board adopted a two‑tier examination system which requires passing a written exam as a prerequisite to taking the oral exam.   During Dr. Nigro’s tenure, the Board incorporated the use of official examiners to help conduct the oral exams, which has proved to be invaluable aid to the Board’s examination process.


Dr. Nigro’s leadership and guidance has contributed immeasurably to the success and strength of the ASCRS, ABCRS and the specialty.


Dr. Nigro is survived by his wife, Mary; two children, Louise and Norman; five grandchildren, Daniel, Sara, Andrew, Paula, and Sonia; and ten great-grandchildren.

The funeral services are private and condolences can be sent to:


                                       Ms. Louise Nigro Maffei

                                       17 Pebble Hill Road North

                                       Dewitt, New York 13214


The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be made to:

                               The ASCRS Research Foundation

                               85 West Algonquin Road – Suite 550

                               Arlington Heights, IL 60005


To access Dr. Nigro’s presentation “The Dance of Surgery:  Who Calls the Tune” for the Joseph Mathews Oration given during the ASCRS Annual Meeting, June, 1978.  Please click HERE.