James H. “Red” Duke, Jr.
Professor of Surgery, John B. Holmes Professor of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery, Division of Acute Care Surgery

At UTHealth since 1972, James H. “Red” Duke, Jr. is the elder statesman of the Department of Surgery and a larger-than-life Texas character known to millions for his nationally syndicated television spots called “Texas Health Reports.”  He is also known for introducing Memorial Hermann’s Life Flight program and bringing a Level 1 Trauma Unit to Houston. “I don’t consider myself famous,” he says. “I’m just overexposed.”

After graduating from Texas A&M University (where he was Yell Leader), Duke was a commissioned Army officer during the Korean War. Upon his return to the United States, he says he was compelled to go to seminary in Fort Worth. “I liked school but I couldn’t stand preaching,” he says. Fate intervened when a tornado came through and tore down the church where he was supposed to practice preaching. “I figured that was a sign from God that I needed to do something else.”

Duke was on call at Parkland Hospital in Dallas after President John F. Kennedy was shot, and attended to the wounds of Texas Gov. John Connally, who was shot at the same time.

In his very limited free time, Duke is a longtime painter and an ardent conservationist. He is the founder and past president of the Texas Bighorn Society, which has restored that sheep population in West Texas.

His motto? “I learned this in the National Guard: Stay in the high grass and don’t raise your head in the same place twice.”


Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
B.S. 1946- 1950


Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
B.D. 1951- 1955


The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas
M.D. 1956-1960


The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas
Medicine 1960-1961


The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas
General Surgery 1961-1965


Columbia University, New York, New York
NIH Division General Medical Sciences 1967-1969


Columbia University, New York, New York
Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry, and Computer Science 1967-1969

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