UT Martin ’68, Health Science Center ’72
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus‘ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.
Born in the cotton fields of what he calls Skullbonia, Tennessee, it seems fate that Paul Blaylock pursued the skull (neurosurgery) and bones (ER trauma) in his career.
An early interest in science that produced a singed bedroom and back-porch explosion moved Blaylock’s parents to encourage his pursuits with a science lab, a shack in the woods far behind their South Fulton, Tennessee, home.
“My poor mom was repeatedly surprised by finding dissected creatures from the swamp in her refrigerator,” he says.
At 16, he enrolled at UT Martin and met his advisor, Phil Watkins, the former vice chancellor of student affairs and advisor of student government. Their lifelong bond is honored in the “Friends” bronze statues created from their likenesses on UT Martin’s campus. The UT Martin Student Government Association also renamed its office after Blaylock.
“I believe in the power of education and try to learn something new every day of my life,” Blaylock says.
After graduating as valedictorian in 1968 from UT Martin in pre-med, he graduated at the top of his medical school class from the Health Science Center in 1972. He trained under the acclaimed cardiac surgeon Michael DeBakey and went to neurosurgery residency in Portland, Oregon. By 28, he was a trauma emergency doctor. Twelve years later, he added a JD to his name after graduating at the top of his class from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College.
“The same passion I had 40 years ago for medicine still burns,” he says. “That is what I was born to do.”