Society of University Surgeons

- Founded in 1938 -

The mission of the SUS is supporting and advancing leaders in academic surgery. 

Membership - SUS will engage and invigorate the membership.

Scholarship - SUS will inspire and promote excellence in scholarship.

Professional Development - SUS will facilitate the attainment of member career goals.

Finance - SUS will achieve financial sustainability.


The five elements in our logo symbolize:

Halo .........................................Purity
Salve container.......................Therapy
Lamp ........................................Creativity
Book .........................................Scholarship

Our Legacy

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.


Scientific and Clinical Breakthroughs

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.

Education and Training

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 Resident Scholar Awards at the ASC: The SUS offers two awards to the best presentation by a resident in the plenary sessions of the Academic Surgical Congress. Eligible abstracts are those selected for presentation at any of the plenary sessions and presented by a general surgical resident in good standing in their department. Presentations are graded by members of the SUS Executive Council and the winner receives support to travel to their choice of either the ESSR or SARS sister society annual meetings. The runner up receives support to travel to the other meeting. Surgical residents are able to interact with international colleagues and mentors, gaining valuable training in the surgical sciences.

SUS Resident Scholar Award Grants: The SUS offers resident scholar award grants every year intended for residents in any of the surgical disciplines who are doing basic science or “outcomes” research, or research on surgical education as well as those in any of the surgical disciplines who are doing research focused on surgical innovation, bioengineering, information technology and data management, or surgical education utilizing new technologies. A rigorous application and review process has been used to select among the most talented of our young surgeon-scientists. These grants have 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.

Reaching Beyond the SUS


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 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 Japan Surgical Society, the Surgical Research Society of Australasia, Society of Academic and Research Surgery, 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.