2015 SCCACS Newsletter

Southern California Chapter
American College of Surgeons
SCCACS Summer Newsletter 2015 — Vol. 20

Table of Contents


By Shirin Towfigh, MD, FACS
President, Southern California Chapter, American College of Surgeons

Shirin Towfigh

On behalf of the Board of the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, I send you our warm regards and wishes that it has been a relaxing and healthy summer for you and your family. Our annual meeting this past January was extraordinarily successful thanks to the superb leadership of President O. Joe Hines, MD, FACS, and our Program Chair Farin Amersi, MD, FACS. We thank them for their diligent work and planning. I would also like to acknowledge the loyal efforts and guidance of Jim Dowden and his staff who are the backbone of our Chapter—the largest and most active ACS Chapter in the world!

Over the past months, we at the Board leadership have been preparing for our next annual meeting. We have already put in a lot of work to assure we break records for yet another fabulous event in Santa Barbara come January. If you have any ideas or suggestions about the Chapter or our meeting, please email us and we will work on it. Here are some sneak peeks into what we have planned for you:

SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting will be held at the coveted Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Santa Barbara from January 15-17, 2016. We have arranged for a limited block of rooms at a deeply discounted rate of $350/night. Rooms at this rate are available until the block is sold out, but only until December 15, 2015. Please make reservations directly with the hotel at (805) 565-8299 and mention the Southern California Chapter of the American Colleges of Surgeons to take advantage of the discounted rate.

Julie Freischlag

I am pleased to announce one of this year’s guest speakers is Julie Freischlag, MD, FACS, Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences, Dean of the School of Medicine, and Professor of Surgery at University of California, Davis. Dr. Freischlag is a vascular surgeon and an international expert in the diagnosis and treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome. She has served as Secretary of the Board of Governors and Chair of the ACS Board of Regents, and she was past President of the Society for Vascular Surgery and past editor of JAMA Surgery, among other positions. 

David Hoyt

We are very pleased that David Hoyt, MD, FACS, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons, will once again be joining us. He will be giving us updates on the national issues facing surgeons and activities of the College.

Peter S. Richman

In addition, Peter S. Richman, MD, FACS, vascular surgeon and newly appointed President of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, will be providing us with an update on local issues facing surgeons. I highly encourage our membership to be aware of and active in addressing issues that directly affect surgeons. 

Patricia Numann

The speaker at the Women in Surgery Luncheon will be Patricia Numann, MD, FACS. Dr. Numann is the Lloyd S. Rogers Emeritus Professor of Surgery at SUNY Upstate. She was the second woman to serve as President of the American College of Surgeons, the first woman to serve as Chair of the American Board of Surgery, and one of the Founders and later President of the Association for Women Surgeons. Her clinical and scientific interests have focused on breast disease and thyroid and parathyroid diseases. She is currently representing the ACS in global surgery outreach efforts.  

Program Highlights
Program Chair Kenji Inaba, MD, FACS, Associate Program Chair Sharon Lum, MD, FACS, and Assistant Program Chair Kevork Kazanjian, MD, FACS, are developing a program for the annual meeting that will surpass the success of all prior meetings. We will have a combination of high quality scientific papers and invited guest lecturers. Topics will address the needs of surgeons in practice in general surgery and surgical subspecialties, as well as those of surgeons-in-training. The focus will be on multi-disciplinary discussions and debates, such as the introduction of a combined Breast and Plastic Surgery specialty session and a “Battle of the Blades” debates session in minimally invasive surgery. This year, we will also have a session on Global Outreach and Disaster Response, with opportunities for involvement by the surgeon.

The ever-popular “What’s New?” sessions will be on Friday. Topics include what’s new in Vascular Surgery, Surgical Oncology, Trauma and Hernia. Also, Bruce Gewertz, MD, FACS, will give his perspective on “Finding Fulfillment in Work and Life.”

We encourage you to bring your family and join us for the Friday evening cocktail reception. You can enjoy an abundance of food, drink and music. This is a time to relax and mingle among friends and colleagues, and it’s one of my favorite events. The awards for best scientific paper will be announced then. Plus, we have an excellent band of fellow surgeons who will rock the night away with us.

It can’t be a Saturday without Surgical Jeopardy. Once again, the SoCal residency programs will fight against each other for the Annual Dowden Cup. It’s standing room only, so show up early to cheer for your favorite team!

The Southern California Region ACS Committee on Trauma will be having a Trauma Medical Director’s breakfast on Sunday, preceding the Trauma Surgery specialty session. All trauma papers submitted to the meeting will have the option of being reviewed for inclusion in the ACS-COT resident research competition, as well. The top clinical and basic sciences papers will get all-expenses paid trips to the regional competition in December 2016.

The California Chapter of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery will join us again this year for a joint session. We have had a successful alliance in the last two years. We welcome the ASMBS Chapter members from across our beautiful state.

Call for Abstracts
Abstracts for the Annual Scientific Meeting program participation are being accepted through Wednesday, September 9. Details for abstract submission are posted here. If successfully selected for plenary session oral presentation, most papers will be published in a special issue of The American Surgeon. This is a great opportunity, especially for young surgeons-to-be and surgeons-in-training, to gain experience in presenting at a major conference and in publishing in a peer-reviewed journal.

This year the ACS Commission on Cancer will be conducting a Resident Research Paper competition with a cash prize for the winner and a chance to continue toward a national competition. Similarly, the ACS Committee on Trauma will have its annual Resident Research contest.

Please Help Recruit Vendors
The Board initiated new efforts regarding fundraising and industry support for our Annual Meeting, and Howard Kaufman, MD, FACS, is leading this effort for us. I am also asking for your individual help to boost fundraising and industry participation for the meeting. Such support allows us to keep membership dues and registration fees at a more modest level. This is especially important in the era of regulatory statutes limiting and restraining support from individual industry partners.

If you have any special relationship with industry representatives who have supported us in the past, or whom you feel will have an interest in doing so in the future, please forward their contact information directly to Jim Dowden, SCCACS Executive Director, at He will take over from there and provide prospects with the necessary follow-up, coordinate with Dr. Kaufman, and offer the vendors a selection of opportunities for participation in our meeting.

Don’t forget to register early and reserve your hotel rooms! We hope that you and your family will join us in Santa Barbara, January 15-17, 2016. You are an integral part of our SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting, and I encourage you to take advantage of our high level program, participate in the many opportunities for education and recreation, and take some time for relaxation. I am personally looking forward to this meeting as it is a momentous one for me: 17 years as an active member!


SCCACS is your organization. Below are some reminders about Chapter activities, as well as contact information for Chapter leaders. The leaders want to hear from you with any comments and suggestions:


Abstracts for the 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting program participation are being accepted through close of business on Wednesday, September 9. You are invited to submit an abstract on the clinical or laboratory research project of your choice. Abstracts are only accepted through this online submission form. Abstracts must conform to the Instructions for Preparation of Abstract, and they may not have been submitted to a journal for publication, published previously or presented at a national or regional meeting prior to the 2016 Chapter meeting. Be sure to read through this newsletter for opportunities for Resident Research competitions from both the Commission on Cancer and the Committee on Trauma. 

Chapter members are provided free online access to the American Surgeon Journal published by the Southeastern Surgical Congress. This service is provided as part of your annual membership dues. In order to access the Journal online, you must set up an account for those purposes with the Journal publisher. You will need to provide your 5-digit Chapter membership ID to complete the process. Follow the instructions posted here to gain online access. Contact Chapter offices if you have any questions or trouble gaining access. 

President Shirin Towfigh, MD, FACS,
President-Elect Christian de Virgilio, MD, FACS,

Vice-President Vincent Rowe, MD, FACS,
Secretary-Treasurer Ninh Nguyen, MD, FACS,
Recorder J. Craig Collins, MD, FACS,

Gabriel Akopian, MD, FACS,

Anton Bilchik, MD, FACS,

Charles F. Brunicardi, MD, FACS,
L. Andrew DiFronzo, MD, FACS,
Joshua D I Ellenhorn, MD, FACS,
Roy Fujitani, MD, FACS,
Howard Kaufman, MD, FACS,

Melinda Maggard Gibbons, MD, FACS,
Brian Smith, MD, FACS,
Areti Tillou, MD, FACS,

Program Chair Kenji Inaba, MD, FACS,
Associate Chair Sharon Lum, MD, FACS,

Assistant Chair Kevork Kazanjian, MD, FACS,

Commission on Cancer State Chair
Sharon Lum, MD, FACS,

Committee on Trauma Chair
Kenji Inaba, MD, FACS,

Representative, Association of Women Surgeons
Karen Woo, MD, FACS,

Young Surgeon Representatives

Catherine M. Dang, MD, FACS,

Joseph C. Carmichael, MD, FACS,

Executive Director
C. James Dowden


By Catherine Dang, MD, FACS, and Joseph Carmichael, MD, FACS
SCCACS 2015 Young Surgeons Representatives

Catherine Dang
Joseph Carmichael

Introduction and Young Surgeons’ Breakfast

One of the highlights of the SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting in Santa Barbara is the Young Surgeons’ Breakfast. At last year’s highly attended breakfast, young surgeons, residents and medical students had the opportunity to exchange ideas and receive career advice from our distinguished guests, Drs. Jeffrey Matthews, Ruth Bush and David Hoyt.  This year’s event promises to be just as exciting.

We have planned a breakfast session on Saturday morning for surgeons under the age of 45. Dr. Patricia Numman, past President of the American College of Surgeons, and Dr. Julie Freischlag, Vice Chancellor and Dean of UC Davis School of Medicine, will join the young surgeons for breakfast, where attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their careers and the balance of life and work with these distinguished surgeons.  Please make plans to join us for this highly rated annual event.

Surgical Jeopardy
The Surgical Jeopardy competition will take place on Saturday afternoon at the Annual Scientific Meeting in 2016. Residents from Southern California residency programs will compete for the coveted Dowden Trophy, as well as bragging rights in what should be an educational and highly entertaining event.

Four preliminary rounds will pit three residency programs against one another, with the winner of each round advancing to final jeopardy for the tournament of champions. 

Last year’s competition was extremely close with the team from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center taking the trophy in the Final Jeopardy round. We will be contacting Southern California residency program directors and residents to encourage them to attend the meeting and represent their program in this exciting competition.

Young Surgeons’ Travel Stipend
The SCCACS is again offering the Young Surgeons’ Travel Stipend, which will be awarded on a competitive basis. Last year’s winners were Drs. Rodrigo Alban (Cedars-Sinai), Dennis Kim (Harbor-UCLA), and Matthew Koopmann (Harbor-UCLA). The purpose of the award is to encourage young practicing surgeons to participate in our local Chapter and/or national American College of Surgeons meetings by providing a stipend of $1200 each to cover meeting attendance expenses. The winners will be announced at the Young Surgeons’ Breakfast on Saturday and must be present to receive the award.

More details and travel stipend applications are posted on the chapter’s website. The deadline for submission is 5pm PST Monday, January 11, 2016.

We look forward to seeing you all in Santa Barbara this January.


By Sharon S. Lum, MD, FACS
State Chair, Southern California Chapter ACS
Commission on Cancer, California Zone S

Sharon S. Lum

As the American College of Surgeons forges ahead in becoming the recognized accrediting body for multiple lines of practice, the Commission on Cancer is dedicated to improving the quality of cancer care nation- and world-wide. At the annual spring CoC meeting in Chicago in May, 2015, I report that new standards and quality measures for cancer care were introduced for additional tumor sites, the creation of the CoC Rectal Cancer Accreditation Program is well underway with the OSTRiCh Consortium (Optimizing the Surgical Treatment of Rectal Cancer), and the NAPBC (National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers) accredited its first program outside the U.S. in the United Arab Emirates. 

It is my pleasure to announce that the abstract selected from the 2015 SCCACS annual scientific meeting, “Should Cholecystectomy Routinely Be Performed For Porcelain Gallbladder?” by authors Gao L. Chen MD, Victoria O’Connor MD, Yasir Akmal MD, and Andrew L.DiFronzo MD of Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, won third place in the CoC’s national Physician-in-Training Cancer Research Paper Competition. In addition to a monetary prize, Dr. Chen has been invited to present her work at the annual CoC meeting in October preceding the clinical congress. Congratulations to Dr. Chen et al!

Please contact me at  if you have questions regarding the mission of the Commission on Cancer.


By Karen Woo, MD, MS, FACS
Representative, Association of Women Surgeons

We were delighted to have an outstanding showing for the 7th Annual Women in Surgery Luncheon Saturday, January 17, at the 2015 SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting. More than 60 students, residents, fellows and attending surgeons attended the event and had the opportunity to meet and network with other female surgeons from a variety of specialties.

Our keynote speaker was Ruth Bush, MD, FACS. Dr. Bush is a vascular surgeon who is the Associate Dean for Education for the Temple Campus of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.  Dr. Bush gave a spirited and well-received talk entitled, “The Road Less Traveled.”
Please make plans now to attend the 8th Annual Women in Surgery Luncheon on Saturday, January 16, 2016, during next year’s SCCACS meeting at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara.  The distinguished guest speaker will be Dr. Patricia Numann.  Dr. Numann served as president of the American College of Surgeons during 2011-2012 and is the founder of the Association of Women Surgeons. 
Mark your calendars and make sure you RSVP for this event! 


By Kenji Inaba, MD, FACS, FRCSC
Chair, SCCACS Committee on Trauma

Kenji Inaba

The Southern California Chapter of ACS Committee on Trauma remains committed to improving the care of injured patients in this region and to providing education to surgeons caring for these patients. It sponsors ATLS, ASSET, DMEP and TOPIC courses, as well as the local Resident Trauma Paper Competition.

For 2015, we will continue to link submissions for this Paper Competition with abstract submissions for the SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting. Last year, more than 30 outstanding abstracts were submitted, representing most of the Surgery training programs in our region.

Three abstracts were selected for the Region IX Trauma Paper Competition, held in San Diego, CA. Our local winners did an outstanding job of representing our region.

1st place – Megan Linnebur, LAC+USC Medical Center, REBOA placement of surface markers    

2nd place – Shin Miyata, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Should all severely injured children be transferred to Level I trauma centers? An NTDB study

3rd place – Rohit Sharma, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, The impact of race on the management of severe acute traumatic brain injury: an NTDB analysis.

Runner-up – Kyle Mock, Harbor/UCLA Medical Center, Post-resuscitative hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis is associated with acute kidney injury

Present in Las Vegas in 2015
This year, we will be accepting submissions for the SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting, along with the Residents Trauma Paper Competition. We are looking forward to having another year where our outstanding Southern California Residents present their state-of-the-art research. The local competition will be held at LA Country Medical Center on September 22, 2015.  The top abstracts will be selected for the Regional Competition, to be held in December 2015 in Las Vegas, NV.

Finally, our local trauma directors will meet to discuss issues relevant to our region during the Annual Scientific Meeting in Santa Barbara. More details regarding the location and time will be sent along this fall. 


By J. Craig Collins, MD, MBA, FACS
Chapter Recorder

Craig Collins

What does the Recorder do now that manuscripts are submitted electronically? Plenty! The Recorder attends all plenary sessions of the Chapter’s annual meeting in Santa Barbara and oversees the process of peer review for approximately 40 plenary papers. For the last two cycles, I have assigned two reviewers per manuscript in order to bring greater consensus to our peer review process. The Recorder also serves as associate editor for the October edition of The American Surgeon. In this role, the Recorder suggests final edits to the authors and makes the ultimate decision as to acceptance for publication of revised manuscripts.  I am deeply grateful to all of the authors who have submitted their work and to the many Chapter members who have served as peer reviewers.  You have strengthened the quality of our publication significantly.

For the 2015 meeting, the Program Committee received more than 160 submissions. We will publish 38 peer-reviewed manuscripts in the October 2015 edition of The American Surgeon. Our journal is now an e-subscription for Chapter members. Instructions on accessing the journal are on the Chapter’s website.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as Recorder for the Chapter for the last two years. And now that I have more or less learned the job, it’s time to turn it over to my successor! Dr. Farin Amersi of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was elected as your next Recorder for 2016-2018 at the annual meeting in Santa Barbara. Please welcome Dr. Amersi to this role.


By Kenji Inaba, MD, FACS
SCCACS, Program Chair 

As Program Chair of the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, it is with tremendous enthusiasm that President Shirin Towfigh, MD, FACS, and I announce the upcoming 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting in January. Together with the rest of the Program Committee — Associate Chair Sharon Lum, MD, FACS, and Assistant Chair George Kazanjian, MD, FACS — we are proud to once again host the meeting at the luxurious Santa Barbara Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel and Resort on the beach in Montecito, California. This is the most popular surgeon’s meeting in Southern California, and the Program Committee has been working diligently to make this year’s meeting the most progressive, innovative and inclusive in the history of the Chapter. We have added several new items that we hope will further the appeal of this prestigious meeting.

Highlights of the upcoming 2016 Meeting:

  • Self-assessment CME for Maintenance of Certification offering for the general and specialty sessions
  • The California Chapter of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery will be meeting following the Bariatric and Metabolic Specialty Section program on Sunday morning.
  • Special guest David Hoyt, MD, FACS, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons, will update the Chapter on the activities of the ACS
  • Invited faculty Julie Freischlag, MD, FACS, Dean and Vice Chancellor, UC Davis School of Medicine, will provide the Presidential Keynote Lecture
  • Invited faculty Patricia Numann, MD, FACS, Lloyd S. Rogers Professor of Surgery Emeritus, SUNY, will be the featured speaker at the Women in Surgery Luncheon
  • Invited faculty Peter Richman, MD, FACS, vascular surgeon and current chair of the LA County Medical Association, will provide an update on their activities
  • Invited faculty Bruce Gewertz MD, FACS, Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, will speak on “Finding Fulfillment in Work and Life”
  • New Global Health Session will address International Health Initiatives and Disaster Response
  • Perpetual favorite session, the 8th Annual Resident Surgical Jeopardy competition, will showcase competing residencies for the Dowden Cup
  • Back by popular demand, the Battle of the Blades, a debate on minimally invasive surgery topics
  • High-quality oral research paper presentations
  • Wine and Cheese Poster Session
  • Young Surgeons’ Breakfast, with mentorship provided by invited faculty
  • What’s New in Surgery series
  • Welcome Cocktail Reception for family
  • Women in Surgery luncheon
  • Online registration

Specialty Sessions include:

  • Colorectal Surgery
  • Cardiothoracic &Vascular Surgery 
  • Breast & Plastic Surgery
  • Head & Neck Surgery
  • Pediatric Surgery
  • Trauma Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive & General Surgery 
  • Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery     

The meeting will run from Friday, January 15, through Sunday, January 17, 2016, over the MLK holiday weekend. Click here for meeting registration and hotel information. Early bird discounted conference registration deadline is December 15. The block of hotel rooms always sells out, so we strongly encourage you to make your reservations early. The discounted room rate for the Chapter Meeting is also December 15 or when the block of rooms has been sold out, whichever comes first.

With a growing attendance year-over-year, and flourishing chapter membership — the largest chapter in the country — this meeting is sure to have something for surgeons of all disciplines. So we look forward to welcoming all who are interested in a great meeting, with high-quality features, in a beautiful setting.   

We look forward to seeing you in Santa Barbara January 15-17, 2016.