Meet the Doctor Who Wrote the Book on Ultrasound

Peter Callen, MD came west from Chicago to UC San Francisco in 1969 as a first-year medical student. Now a professor emeritus, he can look back on a five-decade career that includes authorship of the most trusted ultrasound textbook of all time, Callen’s Ultrasonography in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“It has been widely accepted,” he says with characteristic humility and some understatement. Mary Norton, MD and UCSF professor in maternal health, is now listed as the volume’s lead editor with co-editors Leslie M. Scoutt, MD and Vickie A. Feldstein, MD, who is a member of the Ultrasound Section with the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.

Dr. Callen says he was attracted those five decades ago to UCSF’s teaching hospital atmosphere. “They had a willingness to adapt to different learning styles that I thought was unique,” he says. And, Dr. Callen points out, “Ultrasound was a brand new specialty” in the early 1970s. It, along with computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), were just coming into use. “I enjoyed the detective work of being able to look ‘inside’ a patient and make a diagnosis.”

Dr. Callen began his UCSF diagnostic radiology residency in 1974. As a second-year resident, Callen studied CT in Manchester, England, at a time when there were only a handful of scanners in the world. He served as chief diagnostic radiology resident in 1976 and completed his residency in 1977. He joined the UCSF faculty that same year.

In recent years, Dr. Callen has worked at UCSF Imaging at 1725 Montgomery, a San Francisco location serving those who live and work in the Financial District, North Beach, the Embarcadero, and other nearby districts. The Montgomery office shares a building with Golden Gate OBGYN. “This close association with Golden Gate has been tremendous,” says Dr. Callen. “We can talk to Golden Gate clinicians right away. Or if they are seeing a patient who has an abnormality, they can immediately ask us to do an ultrasound.”

Dr. Callen’s professor emeritus designation often seems in title only. He continues his research and clinical work with the same energy that brought him to the West Coast and drove him to complete a crucial reference volume that remains a practice resource for clinicians and an educational resource for current trainees.

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