Dr. Hatcher performed Georgia’s first “blue baby” operation—on his second day at Emory—and continued the trend in the following years, performing the state’s first double and triple valve replacements and its first coronary bypass. He was named chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Emory University Hospital in 1971 and director and chief executive officer at the Emory Clinic in 1976, and he went on to lead Emory’s Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center in 1984.
Through Dr. Hatcher’s vision, the state of Georgia gained the Rollins School of Public Health—another first—and new institutions and partnerships including the Carlyle Fraser Heart Center, Emory Healthcare, and a 30-year contract between the Emory School of Medicine and Grady Memorial Hospital. At Emory, he has a distinguished named professorship in his honor.
Dr. Hatcher also oversaw the movement and expansion of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, which since 1984 has consistently received full accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care for the humane treatment of animals in research. The Yerkes model implements social housing, environmental enrichment, and positive reinforcement training for the animals at its facilities and has developed advancements in combating diseases including malaria, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer disease, and stroke.