Message from the 2018 President - Annual Meeting Recap

Dear ICS Colleague,

Last month, the United States Section held its 80th Annual Surgical Update in Chicago, Illinois where the weather was quite pleasant even though there was a bit of snow in the city during the prior week. The designated theme of the meeting was “Sapientia et Doctrina” (Wisdom and Knowledge) featuring many sessions including content that focused on the day-to-day practice of medicine and surgery. 

The sessions were extremely well attended and based on a preliminary review of the submitted evaluation forms as well as individual discussions with attendees, the educational program was rated very positively by all. During the meeting we were privileged to have several very distinguished guests who gave extremely interesting and informative presentations. To review the final program, please visit and peruse the app that was created for meeting attendees. Following is a short review of who contributed to our meeting to make it special and what you missed if you were unable to join us in Chicago.

On Thursday, April 26th during the Opening Session, a special program was presented entitled, “Global and Rural Surgery”. This session was moderated by Past ICS World President Professor Adel Ramzy from Egypt and Dr. Tracy Sambo who would be inducted later in the meeting as a new Fellow and was my Resident in our training program at St. Joe’s here in Chicago. Prof. Ramzy has extensive experience in Global Surgery and during his time as ICS World President actively participated in W.H.O. activities. Dr. Sambo practices general surgery in rural North Carolina and also presented during the session on how to prepare for a career in rural surgery. Several Section members presented information on their most recent humanitarian endeavors including Dr. Frank Schulze from Germany who shared with us how humanitarian surgery is conducted in Europe.

Included in the Opening Session was a special presentation by Dr. Mark Perlmutter, a member of the ICSUS Executive Committee. Last year, Dr. Perlmutter made a proposal to the G4 Alliance to develop a single open source registry of available human and material resources to efficiently coordinate organizational efforts between high income countries and low/middle income countries to provide medical support. A grant was subsequently awarded to the ICS-US Section with a preliminary discussion of the project included during last year’s meeting. Dr. Perlmutter informed members of the audience of the significant progress that has been made as well as inviting interested parties to participate. Watch your inbox in the coming months for more information about this exciting project spearheaded by the US Section and Dr. Perlmutter. 

During the meeting several sessions were focused on a variety of surgical specialties and included not only members of the US Section and local invited speakers from Chicago, but also multiple ICS colleagues from around the world. On Friday we were honored to have Prof. Kotaro Maeda from Japan present, “Outcomes and Techniques of Transvaginal Anterior Levatorplasty for Intractable Rectovaginal Fistula” in the Colorectal Symposium as well as Prof. Biagio Ravo from Italy present, “Double Peritoneal Cavity Cause of Post Prandial Abdominal Pain, Reflux Esophagitis, Small Bowel Obstruction and Mesenteric Ischemia” in the Open Forum later in the day. For me personally, a highlight of Friday was during the Vascular Surgery Symposium when Dr. Leopoldo Fernandez Alonso from Pamplona, Spain enlightened us on “Surgery in the Bullfight Ring” and showed us just how dangerous the horns of these majestic animals can be.

Then on Saturday morning we were privileged to have several more colleagues from Japan join us. Included in the General Plenary Session was Professor Ken Takasaki, former President of the Japan Section and Professor Masakazu Yamamoto, the Japan Section General Secretary. In the Neurological and Orthopaedic Session our dear friend Professor Hisakazu Yamagishi from Kyoto presented information about a clinical trial using stem cells to treat ALS. In total 13 delegates from Japan attended our meeting. The participation as well as friendship of these International College of Surgeons Fellows who joined us here in Chicago is greatly appreciated.

Later on Saturday morning a Plastic Surgery Symposium was presented, where Prof. Robert Walton from Northwestern University presented, “Microsurgical Reconstruction of the Nose,” as the recipient of the Dr. Andre Crotti Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession of Surgery.  Later that evening at the Gala Banquet Dr. Walton was awarded Honorary Fellowship in the International College of Surgeons. A quick review of his biography that is posted on FICS Online demonstrates exactly why he received the Crotti Award as well as an Honorary Fellowship.

It is of course also necessary to acknowledge our most beloved benefactor, Dr. Arno Roscher from California, who once again identified an outstanding speaker for his Endowed Lecture. Immediately after lunch on Saturday, the annual Dr. Arno A. Roscher Endowed Lecture was presented by Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, MD from the USC, Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. His presentation entitled, “Therapeutic Misadventures” included unique cases he encountered during his 30+ year career with the L.A. County Coroner’s Office. Due to confidentiality concerns, I cannot provide any details here, but if you were at the meeting you will have certainly recognized some well-known names during his presentation. Dr. Roscher never disappoints with his speaker selections and he has already secured his orator for next year. We know that the 2019 presentation will once again be fantastic and the US Section extends its sincere appreciation to Dr. Roscher for his generous donation to establish this important named lecture.

Saturday afternoon also included a wonderful Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Forum as well as our Annual Ethics Forum. This year’s forum included Dr. Peter Angelos from the University of Chicago, who presented, “Surgical Innovation and the Future of Surgical Practice” and Dr. Samer Attar from Northwestern who presented, “Surgical Triage in the Hostile, Low-Resource Environment: Who Gets What?” These two presentations stimulated quite an exchange during a panel discussion where the audience was thoroughly engaged for the final session of the meeting. Special thanks are extended to Drs. Frank Bongiorno and Mamta Swaroop for developing a stimulating session that has already spawned the topic for next year’s session.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our Annual Research Scholarship competition where four surgical trainees orally presented their research that was previously evaluated by the Scholarship Committee. After all scores were tabulated (for both written and oral presentation of the data) the winners were identified. It is my pleasure to congratulate Dr. Manu Kaushik from Southfield, Michigan who won the Grand Prize for his paper entitled, “Novel Concept of Inducing Chronic Allograft Nephropathy in an Animal Model.” Also of note is the runner up from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Dr. Tessa Cartwright. Her presentation of “Reoperation After Lobectomy: A Retrospective Review” was certainly deserving of the Honorable Mention award. Special thanks and congratulations are also extended to the other competitors for a job well-done. Visit FICS Online to see their abstracts along with all the abstracts that were presented at the meeting.

The remaining sessions of the meeting were of course also very educational and included programming for Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons on Friday and Saturday morning. These sessions were produced with the support and cooperation of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons and the members of their Scientific Organizing Committee, most of whom are also ICS Fellows. Special thanks are extended to the Academy’s Chair of the Board, Dr. Craig Clark, for his leadership as well as Drs. Maxime Coles and Lucia Zamorano the Academy’s Scientific Organizing Committee Co-Chairs who lead the development of these excellent sessions. Both are ICS Fellows and I appreciate their participation and hard work. Visit the Academy website at to read about their sessions, speakers and activities in Chicago, including their numerous presentations by top local faculty from Northwestern and Loyola. 

Of course the entire meeting was not just about CME. On Friday the Honors Luncheon recognized New Fellows and acknowledged several other individuals. Included was the installation of my successor, Dr. Andrew Klein, who will officially take over on January 1, 2019 as the US Section’s next President. Andy has already started working on his meeting and based on what he has told us thus far the meeting promises to be exceptional. Keep an eye on your inbox for more information in the coming weeks about the 81st Annual Surgical Update at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Southwest Pennsylvania. We wrapped things up on Saturday night with a banquet that featured a local string quartet and artist Elliott From who created two unique paintings right in front of us that were auctioned to help support the activities of the US Section. 

Visit our Facebook page to see pictures taken during the meeting and be sure to check back in the coming weeks as we post more as they become available. If you have any photos you wish to personally share, please contact Maggie Kearney in Chicago.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to all those who made this meeting a success – the members of the planning committee, the speakers, my colleagues, our families, the US Section staff from Chicago, and my wife Anna Montes. I especially wish to thank all the local speakers for actively participating in our entire program. The presentations by these colleagues from Northwestern, the University of Chicago, Loyola and the University of Illinois made this a truly amazing meeting for all who were fortunate enough to be with us.

In closing, I encourage you to be as active in ICS as you can. We are all working to make our College better and every member’s input and assistance is important for us to be a success. Your efforts can and do make a difference!

Francis J. Podbielski, MD, FICS
President, United States Section
International College of Surgeons








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