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MCR History

History of Medical Center Radiologists, Inc. (MCR)

The history of Medical Center Radiologists (MCR) begins in 1955 with Carl P. Wisoff, MD, who at the time was the sole radiologist of Norfolk General Hospital. A 1946 graduate of Harvard Medical School and a US Army Air Force veteran, Dr. Wisoff completed his radiology training at Cincinnati General Hospital in 1953 and then moved to the Hampton Roads area to begin his radiology career. He would soon recruit another Cincinnati General Hospital radiology residency graduate and US Navy veteran, Donald E. Chambers, MD, to join his fledgling practice, known to the local community as Radiologic Associates. Both having served as radiology residents under the tutelage of legendary thoracic radiologist Ben Felson, MD, of Cincinnati General Hospital, Drs. Wisoff and Chambers together developed a vision to offer the best radiological care to the patients of Hampton Roads while at the same time passing on their skill and knowledge through initiating radiology residency training at Norfolk General Hospital. Radiology residency training at that time was a three year program, consisting of two years of diagnostic radiology training and one year of radiation therapy training. The first radiology residency graduate was Jack D. Mahan, MD.

In addition to Cincinnati General Hospital, another institution would help provide the building blocks of MCR. Three 1969 University of Florida School Of Medicine graduates left their mark on MCR in various ways. Richard H. Miller, MD, joined MCR in 1973 as the eighth hired radiologist. Charged with introducing the then emerging modality of ultrasound to the Hampton Roads area, he spent educational time at institutions including Bowman Gray Baptist Hospital Medical Center and Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia. US Air Force veteran Sture V. Sigfred, MD, would practice as a MCR interventional radiologist for 25 years in addition to serving as group president from 1996 to 2002. Finally, M. Reed Knight, MD, who had performed a two year neuroradiology fellowship at Mallinckrodt Institute, specialized in Neuroradiology with MCR for many years until his retirement in 2005. Dr. Knight worked closely with MCR Nuclear Medicine pioneer David Weaver, MD, PhD, to install and outfit the first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine in eastern Virginia. Armed with a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) doctoral degree in physical chemistry, Dr. Weaver was well versed in the chemistry and physics underlying the advent of MRI and the field of Nuclear Medicine.

Other notable early MCR radiologists included pediatric radiologist Harry J. Presberg, MD, angiographer A. Mitchell Vinson, MD, Robert L. Chiavarini, MD, and Jack D. Mahan, MD. A proud graduate of the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine and former president (1985-1987) of the Norfolk Academy of Medicine, Dr. Mahan served as the second president of MCR, which rebranded away from the group name Radiologic Associates in 1977. In the late 1970s, Norfolk General Hospital and Leigh Memorial were known the “Medical Center Hospitals” and MCR aligned their name as a nod to being the radiologists covering this premier Hampton Roads hospital network.

The role of education and mentorship for the next generation of radiologists has always played an important part of MCR. When Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) opened its doors in 1973, the school administration relied heavily on MCR to serve as radiological faculty for the medical students and Radiology department leadership. The EVMS Diagnostic Radiology Residency started in 1976 and MCR would again play a pivotal role in its success. The first EVMS Department of Radiology Chair was MCR neuroradiologist J. Powell Williams, MD, recruited from the University of Maryland. Another noteworthy MCR radiologist who served as EVMS Radiology Chair (1981 to 1987), was Robert (Bob) A. Woolfitt, MD. A graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine Radiology Residency, Dr. Woolfitt would help harbor in the modality of Computerized Tomography (CT) at Norfolk General Hospital in 1978 and was the first Hampton Roads radiologist to perform a CT guided intraabdominal biopsy. Other MCR radiologists who have served as EVMS Department of Radiology Chair include: Richard Cohan, MD (1991-1992), Sture V. Sigfred, MD (Interim Chair - 1992-1993), Reverend Anne C. Brower, MD (1993-1997), William G. Horstman, MD (1998-2000), John F. Donnal, MD, FACR (2000-2005), and current Chair Lester Johnson, MD, PhD, FACR (2005-Present).

A merger with Portsmouth Radiological Associates (PRA) in 1987 added to the number of MCR radiologists and increased the MCR geographic footprint. One of the PRA group members, MCR breast radiologist Susan E. McKenzie, MD, was a graduate of the EVMS radiology residency and helped smooth the union of PRA with MCR. In addition to covering numerous Sentara affiliated hospitals and imaging centers in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, MCR would now cover current Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center, current Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View, and since closed Portsmouth General Hospital.

As MCR and the field of Radiology moved towards subspecialization in the 1970s, pediatric radiology was an especially important asset to the local community. A 1960 graduate of the University Of Rochester School Of Medicine, MCR pediatric radiologist Harry J. Presberg, MD, was the first practicing pediatric radiologist at Norfolk General Hospital. Upon the opening of Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters (CHKD), Dr. Presberg served as Radiology Department Chief for many years until his retirement in 2003. MCR continues to provide radiology support at CHKD with now five pediatric radiologists.

MCR has been and continues to be a leader in Vascular, Interventional, and Interventional Neuroadiology in the Hampton Roads area. In the early days, this burgeoning field primarily involved diagnostic and interventional angiography, to include cardiac angiography. Early MCR interventional radiologists Clyde W. Wilcox, MD, M. Reed Knight, MD, A. Mitchell Vinson, MD, and Sture V. Sigfred, MD would share the load of angiography procedures and after hours call coverage. By the 1990s, the field of Interventional Radiology (IR) expanded to offer the wide variety of applications it does today including: cancer/oncologic treatment, palliative medicine and pain management, women’s health (Uterine Fibroid and Pelvic Congestion treatment), men’s health (Prostate Hypertrophy treatment), and Musculoskeletal procedures (Epidural Steroid Injection, Radiofrequency Ablation, Kyphoplasty, and bone biopsy). MCR radiologist Harlan L. Vingan, MD, introduced many of these cutting edge IR procedures to the Hampton Roads area after completing a dedicated IR fellowship at Duke University. A reviewer for the prestigious Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology and a Castle Connolly Top Doctor since 2014, Dr. Vingan has been the leading Hampton Roads Interventional Radiologist for over 30 years. Under his leadership, EVMS was granted a rigorous ACGME accredited Early Specialization in Interventional Radiology (ESIR) track in 2019 for the training of future Interventional Radiologists.

Interventional Neuroradiology is another defining subspecialty offered by MCR. In 1994, MCR radiologist John C. Agola, MD, established the first Hampton Roads regional referral center for Interventional Neuroradiology at Norfolk General Hospital with introduction of endovascular therapies for adults and children with brain aneurysms, brain and spine arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), and cerebrovascular stenosis. During his long career, Dr. Agola has developed pioneering advanced cerebrovascular imaging techniques in addition to being a valued member of the physician community at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital (SNGH). Among other committees, he has served as a member of the SNGH Medical Executive Committee, SNGH Chair of the Endovascular Committee, SNGH Chair of the Credentials Committee, and SNGH Chief of Staff.

Yet another subspecialty MCR offered first to the Hampton Roads area was Breast Imaging. In the early 1990’s the use of mammography to identify breast cancer before it was clinically detectable was a rapidly expanding field of medicine and it became apparent that it would benefit from subspecialty training in breast imaging and breast surgery. With the addition of the first breast subspecialty trained surgeon Dr. Claire Carman to the Norfolk area, MCR recruited Nina L. Fabiszewski, MD, FACR, who had completed a Breast Imaging Fellowship at the Magee Women’s Hospital/University of Pittsburgh program. Dr. Fabiszewski joined MCR in 1993 and quickly became the area’s leading authority on the imaging and diagnosis of benign and malignant breast pathology. She led the introduction of breast MRI to the Hampton Roads area and began performing the region’s first MRI guided breast biopsies. During her career, Dr. Fabiszewski trained dozens of future radiologists in breast imaging and ultimately created the area’s only fellowship in breast imaging which became accredited by the ACGME in 2008. The expertise offered by Dr. Fabiszewski and other MCR breast radiologists has helped detect breast cancer at the earliest possible stages for countless patients in this region. MCR continues to have the largest breast section in Eastern Virginia serving patients of Sentara, Bons Secours and Mid Atlantic Imaging Center.

Since 1955, MCR has and continues to be a proven Hampton Roads leader in establishing new imaging technology and image guided procedures. Now with over 50 subspecialty trained radiologists, MCR strives to always exceed the expectations of our patients, colleagues, and healthcare system partners in the Hampton Roads area.

MCR Presidents:

  • 2019-Present Adam W. Specht, MD, FACR
  • 2013-2019 Richard J. Thomas, MD
  • 2009-2013 Theodore A. Dorsay, MD
  • 2002-2009 John F. Donnal, MD
  • 1996-2002 Sture V. Sigfred, MD
  • 1992-1996 Robert L. Chiavarini, MD
  • 1977-1992 Jack D. Mahan, MD
  • 1955-1977 Carl P. Wisoff, MD