Society of University Surgeons

Our Mission is:

To advance the art and science of surgery by...

1. The encouragement of its members to pursue original

investigations both in the clinic and in the laboratory.

2. The development of methods of graduate teaching of

surgery with particular reference to the resident system.

3. Free and informal interchange of ideas pertaining to

the above subjects as a limited membership

and common aims.



The five elements in our logo symbolize:


Halo .........................................Purity

Salve container.......................Therapy

Lamp ........................................Creativity

Book .........................................Scholarship



The Society of University Surgeons was established in 1938 when Dr. Samuel J. Stabins, Chief Surgical Resident at the University of Rochester proposed the idea of a new surgical society whose members (1) had completed a rigorous training program in the tradition of Dr. William Halsted at Johns Hopkins Medical School and (2) held a faculty position at a United States medical school. Over the years, the SUS has continually grown in size and stature, to the point that we are now generally recognized as the world’s premier organization dedicated to the advancement of the surgical sciences. Our members have played crucial roles in virtually all of the critical developments within the field of modern surgery, from the most basic scientific breakthroughs to the technological advances used at the bedside and in the operating room.

Over the years, the fundamental goals of the SUS have remained unchanged. With our dynamic history, poignant leadership, and pioneering programs in education and research, the society has created an undying legacy and an even more promising future.

In 1952, at the fourteenth meeting of the Society of University Surgeons, the Society was presented with a gavel from the Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University. Its inscription states that “the case is made from the oak seats in the gallery of Dr. Halsted’s Operating Room, the gavel head from the maple bannister, and the handle form an oak spindle of the North Staircase.” Dr. Halsted was an outstanding American teacher of surgery whose aim was to establish a school of surgery to train teachers, not merely competent clinical surgeons.




The annual SUS meetings have always been characterized by dynamic presentations with lively discussions.

Many of the most important advances in the surgical sciences have been presented at the SUS meetings by one of our many talented members. Some highlights from the early years are as follows:

1940’s - Correction of congenital heart anomalies in children (Dr. Robert E. Gross)

- Sympathectomy for advanced peripheral vascular disease (Dr. Michael DeBakey and others)

1950’s - Description of the pull-through procedure for Hirschsprung’s disease (Dr. Orvar Svenson)

- Open heart surgery/cardiopulomonary bypass (Dr. Denton Cooley, Dr. Frank Spencer, and others)

- Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome (Dr. Robert M. Zollinger and Dr. Edwin H. Ellison)

1960’s - Efficacy of hypothermia for cerebral protection (Dr. Mark Ravitch and others)

- Importance of donor-recipient relationships for organ transplantation (Dr. Thomas E. Starzl)

- Cardiac transplantation in experimental animals (Dr. Norman Shumway)

- Early successes with transfusion of frozen blood (Dr. Charles E. Huggins)

- First reports of parenteral nutrition in animals (Dr. Stanley Dudrick)

1970’s - Intra-aortic balloon pump assistance in the emergency setting (Dr. Gerald Austen)


Built upon the strong foundation established by our predecessors, the SUS and its members have continued to play vital roles in advancing the care of surgical patients through basic discovery and technical achievements.

Particularly noteworthy during recent decades has been progress in the areas of:

• trauma and critical care

• organ and cellular transplantation

• cancer immunotherapy

• minimal access surgery

• gene therapy.



The education and training of surgeons has always been central to the mission of the SUS. Our members play key roles in the training of medical students, surgical residents, and specialty fellows at virtually every teaching hospital in the USA and Canada.

SUS-Residents Conference – Since 1978, the SUS has sponsored the University Surgical Resident’s Conference. This important program has become an integral part of the SUS annual meeting, providing a superb opportunity for young surgeons to gain experience in presenting their scientific work. Surgical residents are able to interact with colleagues and mentors alike, gaining valuable training in the surgical sciences. The Resident’s Conference has grown over the years to become an integral component of the SUS mission.

The Ethicon-SUS Research Fellowship – This important program was established in 1987 and supports the research training of three surgical residents each year. A rigorous application and review process has been used to select among the most talented of our young surgeon-scientists. The Fellowship has proven to be enormously successful in promoting the training and careers of a number of individuals who are now taking their place among the leaders of academic surgery in the USA and Canada.

The SUS Foundation - Established in 1996, the Foundation provides financial support to deserving young surgeons who have attained junior faculty positions within one of our academic institutions.

These awards are designed to aid surgeon-scientists at a most critical point in their careers, and are helping to ensure the success of the SUS mission in regard to education, research, and patient care.


Given the prominence of the Society and its members, it is no surprise that the SUS has taken a leadership role in forming the public policies surrounding surgery and the health-care field more generally. Some of our early presidents, for example, went on to serve as important leaders in major medical organizations:

Dr. Warren H. Cole (1941), Dr. J. Engelbert Dunphy (1954) Dr. H. William Scott, Jr. (1961), Dr. James D. Hardy (1962), Dr. W. H. Muller (1965), and Dr. Henry T. Bahnson (1966) all went on to become President of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. J. Engelbert Dunphy (1954) and Dr. Lloyd M. Nyhus (1968) became Chairman of the American Board of Surgery.

Dr. C. Rollins Hanlon (1959) and Dr. Paul A. Ebert (1976) became Directors of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Henry T. Randall (1960) served as President of the American Cancer Society.
and Dr. W. Gerald Austen (1973) served as President of the American Heart Association.

- The Social and Legislative Issues Committee of the SUS has led the way in focusing our attention towards many of today’s important health-care policy issues. A series of position statements have been developed which outline the views of the SUS membership and serve to influence policy and policy-makers inside and outside government.

- The SUS provides two representatives to the American Board of Surgery, helping to accomplish its mission of overseeing the training and certification of surgeons in the USA.

- The SUS also has representatives that serve on a variety of other committees and organizations, including:

The Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons; Council of Academic Societies of the Association of American Medical Colleges; the Editorial Board of Surgery; the Surgical Research and Education Committee of the American College of Surgeons, and the National Association of Biomedical Research.

Vital relationships exist between the SUS and various sister organizations throughout the world, including the JapanSurgical Society, the Surgical Research Society of Australasia, the Surgical Research Society of England, the European Society for Surgical Research, and the Surgical Research Society of Southern Africa. These ongoing relationships provide a forum for worthwhile interactions between SUS members and surgeons from around the world.