Texas Society of Anesthesiologists


Dr. Joseph Naples Born and raised in Ohio, Dr. Joseph Naples did not reach Texas until eleven years after graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1969. It was there that he initially became interested in anesthesiology, inspired by his lifelong mentor and friend, Dr. John Schweiss, and an ASA Preceptorship at Barnes Hospital. Following his residency in anesthesiology at a program in northeastern Ohio that no longer exists, he spent the next two years on active duty as a US Air Force Officer, with rank of major, at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. He was chief of anesthesiology there (being the only anesthesiologist), and while in the service became associated with a private anesthesiology group in nearby Columbia, SC. Upon completion of his Air Force tour of duty in 1974, he was recruited to join this group as a cardiac anesthesiologist, based on his experience during residency and for the establishment of a new heart program in Columbia, a first of its kind, and just second in the state. The endeavor was very successful, and it became quite busy over the subsequent years.

Due to his experience in cardiac anesthesia, in 1980, Dr. Naples was recruited by Dr. Dean Morrow, chair of anesthesiology, at Baylor in Houston. Two years later, he was promoted to chief of anesthesia of the Fondren-Brown Cardiovascular Unit at the Methodist Hospital. He worked frequently with Dr. Michael DeBakey, and helped with the development of heart transplants, lung transplants, and liver transplants at Methodist. In addition, he was a member of the Baylor Heart Team for two 3-month rotations at the King Faisal Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in concert with the development of a heart program there, a first for the kingdom. Likewise, he was a member of a similar heart team deployed to Jakarta, Indonesia for a month to help start a new heart program there. Despite all of this, Dr. Naples’ greatest pleasure was with the education and experience of trainees, both residents and fellows, at the CV unit. Also, while at Baylor, he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor and became involved in educational pursuits nationally through the ASA and other organizations.

In 1990, Dr. Naples was recruited by Dr. R. Brian Smith to join the faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, as chief of cardiovascular anesthesiology. Within months, he was promoted to Professor, and appointed to Chief of Anesthesiology at University Hospital. Clinically, he was active in the support of existing transplant programs (lung and heart) and especially a new liver transplant program, which became one of the busiest and nationally reknowned. Also, he became highly involved in the recruitment of medical students into anesthesiology in addition to the education and clinical experience of residents. Academically, he became involved in research pursuits and publications and continued educational activities regionally and nationally. During this time, he became highly active in the TSA, initially as a delegate, ASA delegate, officer (Treasurer and Secretary), various committees, including chair (Education and Long-Range Planning).

Upon the announcement of Dr. Smith’s planned retirement, Dr. Naples applied as an internal candidate to the national search for Chair. Eventually, he was awarded the position, which he assumed at the beginning of 1999.

Assuming that he would continue the remainder of his career at UTHSCSA, he was surprised to receive a call from the administration of Houston Methodist Hospital at the beginning of 2005. The year prior, Methodist and Baylor had parted ways, and Methodist was in the process of developing its own academic departments. Dr. Pat Giam recommended that they contact Dr. Naples about the position of Chairman of Anesthesiology. The Methodist administrator did just that, and on May 1, 2005, Dr. Naples became the first chairman of anesthesiology, just one day after his retirement from UTHSCSA. Initially, he recruited the CV anesthesia and critical care groups from Baylor to join the new Department at Methodist. Next, he opened opportunities for residents from several programs for rotations at Methodist and the DeBakey Heart Center. In addition, he was successful in the integration of the private anesthesia group (GHA/USAP) into the Department of Anesthesiology at Methodist. Members of all groups participated in the missions of the department, which were clinical service, education, and research. Over the subsequent fifteen years, he witnessed the development of Houston Methodist into a regional, state, and national top-tier academic medical center. At the beginning of 2020, Dr. Naples retired following his 50-year career in anesthesiology.

On a personal note, Roberta, my beautiful, intelligent, and loyal wife of 50-plus years, is the clear “wind beneath my wings”. She has been most supportive of me in all of these endeavors listed above. In addition, she has always been a wonderful mother to our three successful children, and grandmother to our four fantastic grandchildren. I am a very lucky guy!


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