SUS Presidential Address: Kasper Wang, MD
Beyond a Pipe Dream: Expanding the URM (Under-Represented Minority) Pipeline
The 2021-2022 SUS President, Dr. Kasper Wang, was introduced by SUS President-Elect Dr. Rebekah White. Through countless gatherings of photos from Dr. Wang’s friends and family, Dr. White described President Wang as a “model child”, a “devoted family man”, a “respected clinician”, and a “quadruple threat” in academic surgery.
Dr. Kasper Wang gave the SUS Presidential Address titled “Beyond a Pipe Dream: Expanding the URM (Under-Represented Minority) Pipeline”. This timely address included Dr. Wang’s poignant personal background, special story about Ms. Dafne Sanchez, and the unique Talent/Opportunity formula. Dr. Wang began his speech by acknowledging that his success would not have been possible without the support of countless mentors/advisors (which included Dr. Harry Oberhelman, Dr. Augusto Bastidas, Dr. Tom Krummel, Dr. Erik Skarsgard, Dr. Kathryn A. Anderson, Dr. Henry Ford, Dr. Eugene Kim, Dr. Jim Stein, Dr. Herb Chen, and Dr. George P. Yang), the SUS Executive Council members, SUS Executive Director (Yumi Hori), and mostly importantly, his wife. Dr. Wang’s personal experience with inequity stemmed from the interactions between his beloved sister Shirley, who has congenital craniosynostosis, and other individuals who treated her poorly because of her appearance. This early experience provided the foundation for Dr. Wang’s unwavering pursuit for social justice and his dedication in providing opportunities for URM in academic surgery.
The Talent/Opportunity formula coined by Dr. Wang is responsible for the success of Ms. Dafne Sanchez. T = Talent, O = Opportunity, Bf = Boost factor, n = number of boosts. Ms. Sanchez was one of the Dr. Wang’s many mentees who is extremely intelligent and was given the unique opportunity to work in Dr. Wang’s laboratory as a high school student intern. Ms. Sanchez became the 1st person in her family to attend college and is now a PhD candidate at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Ms. Sanchez’s success story provided evidence that number of boosts for a talented individual may exponentially translate to huge opportunity and success. Dr. Wang concluded his Presidential speech by stressing the importance of giving “boosts” to talented individuals early in their careers is the key to expanding and sustaining the URM pipeline in academic surgery.