2019 SCCACS Newsletter

Southern California Chapter
American College of Surgeons
SCCACS Summer Newsletter 2019 — Vol. 24

Table of Contents


By J. Craig Collins, MD, MBA, FACS
President, Southern California Chapter, American College of Surgeons

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, we send you our warmest greetings and our hope that you are having an enjoyable summer. It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as your president. It is now my pleasure to provide you with this brief update on the activities of your Chapter.

The Chapter Board, Officers, Governors and other leaders met in June for a Strategic Planning Retreat to set a course for the future of our Chapter. Your leaders resolved to increase communication and the flow of information both to, and from, our members. We identified ways to increase our Chapter’s value to current and future members. We set a vision for increasing the diversity of our membership and our leadership. We established a new mission statement (see inset).  Several new committees were formed and chairs appointed. The Advocacy Committee, chaired by Dr. Sharon Lum, is already off and running. We have determined that our Advocacy stance will be, “policy not politics.” We seek to represent the non-partisan, consensus views of all surgeons in Southern California. Dr. Lum has circulated information to members about State and Federal legislation that impacts our members’ practices. Representing our members, the Chapter has already weighed in with legislators and the Governor on a few selected issues. We appointed a Membership Committee to be chaired by Shawn Steen, MD, FACS. And we formed a Communications Committee to be headed by Danny Shouhed, MD, FACS. We are excited about the future that we envisioned at the Retreat. You will soon be asked to complete a survey that is being developed by Gabriel Akopian, MD, MBA, FACS to help us understand the needs of members and future members. I thank the many Chapter leaders who gave up a Saturday morning to move us to our next level of excellence as the largest and most active ACS Chapter in the U.S. You will be hearing more about this work soon.

New Mission:

The Mission of the Southern California Chapter is to support the practice, teaching and science of Surgery in Southern California through scholarship, mentorship, Fellowship and advocacy, by means of scientific meetings and continuing education, in partnership with the American College of Surgeons.  

The 2019 SCCACS annual scientific meeting was another great success, thanks to the superb leadership of President Ninh Nguyen, MD, FACS, and Program Chair Lydia Lam, MD, FACS. We all thank them for their diligent work and planning.

This spring, at the invitation of the Northern California Chapter, I had the honor of representing SCCACS at the NCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting for a day at the Claremont Club & Spa in Berkeley. Our two Chapters have agreed to extend a mutual, standing invitation to our presidents to participate in each other’s meetings in future years.

Summer months mean that the planning is already underway for our own next annual meeting. The 2020 annual meeting will be yet another fabulous event in Santa Barbara! Here is a preview of what we have planned so far:

The SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting will be held at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara from January 10-12, 2020. See information later in this newsletter about making room reservations – this is just a reminder that the block sells out quickly. Don’t delay!

Carlos A. Pellegrini

I am pleased to announce that my special guest will be Carlos A. Pellegrini, MD, FACS, Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Surgery at the University of Washington. Dr. Pellegrini is an internationally-renowned surgeon with expertise in surgical education, simulation, professionalism, and leadership. He is a former national ACS President, a pioneer in the development of technological surgical advancements, and a world leader in minimally invasive gastrointestinal surgery. Carlos inspired me to become a surgeon. I know he will deliver a memorable keynote presentation to inspire us all.

David Hoyt

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

Myriam J. Curet

The speaker for the Women in Surgery Luncheon will be Myriam J. Curet, MD, FACS. Dr. Curet is current Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Intuitive Surgical. For more than 17 years, Dr. Curet has also held a faculty position at Stanford University School of Medicine, serving as a Clinical Professor of Surgery since October 2015 with a part-time clinical appointment at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Program Highlights
Program Chair Angela Neville, MD, FACS, Associate Program Chair Maheswari (Magi) Senthil, MD, FACS and Assistant Program Chair Dorna Jafari, MD, FACS are actively developing the program for the annual meeting. We are confident that through their efforts, the program will reflect the level of excellence our Chapter has established and refined over the years. We will enjoy a combination of high quality scientific papers and top tier guest lecturers. We anticipate the topics will once again address the needs of surgeons in practice in general surgery and surgical sub-specialties, as well as those of surgeons-in-training. We will have specialty section sessions in Pediatric Surgery, General Surgery, Surgical Oncology, Cardiothoracic, Vascular, Plastic/Head & Neck, Colorectal and Bariatric surgery.  Back by popular demand, a “Battle of the Blades” debate session in minimally invasive surgery will be included.

The ever-popular “What’s New?” sessions will be on Friday. Topics include what’s new in trauma, breast cancer, vascular emergencies, diverticulitis, and robotic hernia repair.

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 bring friends, colleagues and loved ones together. It’s one of my favorite events. Back by popular demand, our all-surgeon band The Blues Cutters will get us off to a rocking start (with yours truly on bass guitar). Consider yourself warned!

It can’t be a Saturday without Surgical Jeopardy. For the 12th year, 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! It’s a standing room only event – show up early to cheer for your favorite team!

Call for Abstracts
Abstracts for the Annual Scientific Meeting program participation are being accepted through Friday, September 6th. Details for abstract submission are posted here.

See information below in the section on the annual meeting about the opportunity to be published in a special issue of The American Surgeon as well as an opportunity to be considered for a JACS submission. We were honored to have 2 papers published in JACS from the 2019 meeting. This is a great achievement!

Please Help Recruit Vendors
I am 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 now, 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 our sponsor committee, and offer the vendors a selection of opportunities for participation in the meeting.

Your Chapter leaders and I hope that you and your family will join us in Santa Barbara, January 10-12, 2020. You are an integral part of our SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting. I encourage you to take advantage of our superb program, participate in the many opportunities for education and recreation, and take some time for relaxation at the beautiful Biltmore. Until then!

Chapter Information

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 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting program participation are being accepted through close of business on Friday, September 6th. 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 2020 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 J. Craig Collins, MD, FACS,
President-Elect Kenji Inaba, MD, FACS,
Vice-President Farin Amersi, MD, FACS,
Secretary-Treasurer Brian Smith, MD, FACS,
Recorder Sharon Lum, MD FACS, (2017-2020)
Recorder Melinda Maggard Gibbons, MD, FACS, (2019-2022)


Gabriel Akopian, MD, FACS,
Joe Carmichael, MD, FACS,
L. Andrew DiFronzo, MD, FACS,
Namir Katkhouda, MD, FACS,
Dennis Y. Kim, MD FACS,
Junko Ozao-Choy, MD, FACS,
Areti Tillou, MD, FACS,
Karen Woo, MD, FACS,

Ninh Nguyen, MD, FACS,
Vincent Rowe, MD, FACS,
Christian de Virgilio, MD, FACS,


Program Chair Angela Neville, MD, FACS
Associate Chair Maheswari Senthil, MD, FACS
Assistant Chair Dorna Jafari, MD, FACS,

Advocacy Committee
Sharon Lum, MD, FACS,

Commission on Cancer State Chair
Howard S. Kaufman, MD,FACS,

Committee on Trauma
Areti Tillou, MD, FACS,

Committee on Women in Surgery
Kulmeet Sandhu, MD, FACS,

Young Surgeon Representatives

Daniel Shouhed, MD, FACS,
Howard Jen, MD, FACS,

Executive Director
C. James Dowden,


By Daniel Shouhed, MD, FACS and Howard Jen, MD, FACS
SCCACS 2020 Young Surgeons Representatives

Daniel Shouhed
Howard Jen

Introduction and Young Surgeons’ Breakfast

Southern California Chapter ACS strongly young surgeon’s career development through various activities throughout the year and during the annual meeting in Santa Barbara. The Young Surgeons’ Breakfast is on of such activity and is a key highlight of the SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting.

 This year’s event promises to continue the tradition of being a can’t miss event with a planned breakfast session on Saturday morning, January 11th. This even is designed specifically for surgeons under the age of 45. During breakfast, the attendees will have the opportunity to discuss health care policies, career planning and work/life balance with the 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, January 11, 2020 at the Annual Scientific Meeting. Residents from Southern California surgical residency programs will compete for the coveted Dowden Trophy, as well as bragging rights in what should be an educational and highly entertaining event. Preliminary rounds will pit residency programs against one another, with the winner of each round advancing to Final Jeopardy for the tournament of champions.

Last year’s competiting teams ended with an exciting finish of the final Jeopardy question winner from Community Memorial Health Ventura County and the final Jeopardy points winner coming from USC. We will be contacting local residency program directors and residents to encourage them to attend the meeting and represent their program in this exciting bur friendly competition.

Young Surgeons’ Travel Stipend
The SCCACS is again offering the Young Surgeons’ Travel Stipend, which will be awarded on a competitive basis. The three recipients of the 2019 Young Surgeon Travel Stipends were Jillian Angelo from UCLA-Harbor, Adam Truong from Cedar-Sinai, and Jill Dworsky from 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 $1,200 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 5:00 pm PST December 20, 2019. We look forward to seeing you all in Santa Barbara this January!


Howard Kaufman

By Howard S. Kaufman, MD, MBA, FACS
State Chair, Southern California Chapter ACS
Commission on Cancer, California Zone S

 The mission of the Commission on Cancer (CoC), a program of the American College of Surgeons, is to improve survival and quality of life for cancer patients by recognizing cancer programs for their commitment to providing comprehensive, high-quality, and multidisciplinary patient-centered care. CoC accredited cancer programs must fulfill a rigorous set of standards on a three-year cycle.  These standards have recently undergone revision and have been submitted to CoC leadership for approval.  We should see a release of the new standards manual in late 2019 with implementation scheduled for January 2020.  Our past State Chair, Dr. Sharon Lum, was actively involved in creation of the new standards manual.  On behalf of the chapter, I would like to thank Dr. Lum for her excellent leadership and contributions during her terms as State Chair.

At the 2020 SoCal ACS Chapter Annual Scientific Meeting, we will again be hosting the annual Physician-In-Training Cancer Research Paper Competition. The 2019 winner, for the 2nd year in a row, was Dr. Blake Babcock of Loma Linda. Selections from the SoCal meeting in January 2020 will be advanced to the national competition for a chance to win a $1,000 prize plus travel to present their research at the annual CoC meeting during the college meeting in October 2020.  Please inspire all trainees to submit their work by the abstract deadline in September for this prestigious award.

Our Cancer Liaison Physicians Meeting will be held in Santa Barbara on Sunday, January 12, 2020 in conjunction with the Annual Scientific Meeting.  Please join us for discussions of the new standards, American Cancer Society efforts to increase HPV vaccination rates, and strategies to reduce postoperative opioid needs in cancer patients.


By Kulmeet Sandhu, MD, FACS, FASMBS
Chair, Committee on Women in Surgery

Kulmeet Sandhu

Join us for the highly anticipated 12th Annual Women in Surgery Luncheon next year.  This is always one of the highlights of the SCCACS meeting and next year will be no exception.  The Luncheon will be held on Saturday, January 11, 2020 during the Annual SCCACS meeting at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara.  This is an opportunity for students, residents, fellows and attending surgeons to not only learn, but also to meet and network with other female surgeons in a number of specialties.  The committee is very pleased and excited this year to have another distinguished guest speaker, Myriam Curet, MD, FACS

Dr. Curet received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed her general surgery residency at the University of Chicago.  She completed a fellowship in minimally invasive fellowship and performed general and bariatric surgery.  She joined the Stanford University Department of Surgery in 2000 and is currently a Clinical Professor of Surgery.  She is passionate about surgical education and has served as chair of the American College of Surgeon’s Committee on Resident Education.  She is also a past president of the Association of Women Surgeons.  Dr. Curet joined Intuitive Surgical in 2005 as Chief Medical Advisor and became Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer in 2017.  In this role, she helps oversee medical research and training on the robotic platform. You will not want to miss this incredible experience!  Be sure to mark your calendars and RSVP for this event.

You won’t want to miss this amazing event! Please make plans now to attend the 12th Annual Women in Surgery Luncheon. Mark your calendars and make sure you RSVP for this event.

Don’t forget to join the Southern California ACS Women in Surgery Facebook group.  This is a closed group whose purpose is to facilitate communication and information among female surgeons in Southern California.  It is also a forum where we can all communicate with one another in an informal fashion.  We encourage everyone to join! 


Sharon Lum

By Sharon Lum, MD, FACS
Chair, Advocacy Committee SCCACS

The purpose of the SCCACS Advocacy Committee is to keep members informed of federal and state legislation related to the practice of surgery and to organize the Southern California surgeons’ grassroots efforts to protect our practice and patients. In addition, we partner with the Northern California and San Diego Chapters in the Joint Advocacy Committee to bring a larger voice to statewide and national issues that affect all California surgeons. We are currently seeking a resident member to represent RAS—please nominate an interested resident.

There are currently two pieces of legislation that the SCCACS Board of Directors strongly opposes:

S 1895 is the Senate bill that addresses surprise medical bills nationally, but unfortunately contains language that includes federal rate setting and lacks a fair independent dispute resolution process. Ultimately, this legislation gives health plans power to lower payment rates to in- and out of- network physicians. It is strongly opposed by the national ACS.

AB 1404 is the California bill that mandates public reporting of physician compensation when affiliated with a non-profit organization. This bill would drive compensation down for all physicians, result in unfair competitive practices, and exacerbate the physician shortage in California. It is strongly opposed by the CMA.

We encourage SCCACS members to take action by simply clicking on the links below to let your federal and state legislators know how these bills will adversely affect your surgical practice, and ultimately, patients.



Please contact us to let us know how we may serve your interests better.

Your voice does make a difference!


By Areti Tillou, MD, FACS, Chair
Elizabeth Benjamin, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair
Eric Ley, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair
Dennis Kim, MD, FACS, Stop the Bleed® Champion

The Southern California Chapter of ACS Committee on Trauma remains committed to improving the care of injured patients in our 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.

Areti Tillou
Elizabeth Benjamin
Eric Ley
Dennis Kim

In April 2019, Dr. Kenji Inaba completed his six-year term as State Chair for Southern California and has been appointed as the Region IX Chair! We are grateful for his leadership and will continue to seek his guidance as he transitions in this important new role in the COT. Dr. Areti Tillou has assumed the role of Chair of the Southern California Committee on Trauma and Drs. Elizabeth Benjamin and Eric Ley will continue to serve in their roles as Vice-Chairs. The SoCal COT will continue to promote all COT educational programs in our area and will participate in the Southern California ACS Chapter activities

Dr. Dennis Kim has been identified as our State Stop the Bleed® Champion. The State STB Chair can help direct interested groups to STB sites throughout the State and participate in collaborative efforts with other regions and the national COT.

Resident Research Competition and Annual Chapter meeting

For 2019, we will continue to link submissions for the ACS-COT Resident Research Paper Competition with abstract submissions for the SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting. Last year, a large number of abstracts were submitted, representing all of the Surgery training programs in our region. If you would like an abstract considered that will not be submitted to the SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting, please send it directly to my office by September 15, 2019. Contact Ariana Flores for submission details (310-267-9609,

This year, Cedars-Sinai will be hosting a one-day research competition for all Region IX resident trauma research papers.  The competition is scheduled for December 7th and will host the top clinical and basic science papers from CA, NV, AZ, and HI at a one-day symposium. Specific details and dates will be announced closer to the event, once the final plans are set. We are looking forward to having another year where our outstanding surgery residents present their state-of-the-art research.

Finally, our local trauma directors will meet to discuss issues relevant to our region in January during the 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting in Santa Barbara. More details regarding the location and time will be sent along this fall.


Melinda Maggard Gibbons

By Melinda Maggard Gibbons, MD, FACS
Chapter Recorder

For the 2019 meeting, we received over 120 abstract submissions. The Program Committee selected top abstracts for potential publication in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS). We are pleased that in this second year of our new collaboration two manuscripts were accepted and published by JACS.  “Current Burden of Gunshot Wound Injuries at Two Los Angeles County Level 1 Trauma Centers,” Christopher Foran, Reynold Henry, Damon Clark, Priti Lalchandani, Dennis Kim, Brant Putnam, Kazuhide Matsushima, Morgan Schellenberg, Bryan Love, Kenji Inaba, Demetrios Demetriades, J Am Coll Surg. 2019
Aug;229(2):141-149. “Clinical Value of Hernia Mesh Pathology Evaluation,” Negin Fadaee, Rajeev Sharma, Laura Mazer, Bonnie Balzer, Shirin Towfigh,  J Am Coll Surg. 2019 May;228(5):776-781.

In addition, 30 manuscripts approved by SCCACS member peer reviewers will be published in the October 2019 edition of The American Surgeon.

For the 2020 meeting, the top abstracts will again be selected for a potential publication opportunity in JACS. I encourage you to consider submitting your best work for this high impact journal. Please remember that the duty and privilege of SCCACS membership is peer review. Contact me at if you would like to become more involved in the review process.


Angela Neville

By Angela Neville, MD FACS
SCCACS, Program Chair 

You are invited to attend the 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting January 10-12 at the idyllic Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara. Associate Program Chair Maheswari Senthil, MD, FACS, Assistant Program Chair Dorna Jafari, MD, FACS, and I are honored to organize the largest chapter meeting in the country and have been working hard to keep the meeting both educational and entertaining. Cutting edge research will be presented in oral and poster formats alongside high-yield sessions to review What’s New in Trauma, Breast Cancer, Vascular Surgery, Robotic Hernia Repair and Diverticulities. Specialty Sessions will provide in depth knowledge for surgeons of all disciplines. CME with Self-Assessment credit will be available for general and specialty sessions to fulfill Maintenance of Certification requirements. And the always popular Surgical Jeopardy Competition will crown the top surgical residency program in Southern California. Join us for this exciting meeting!

Highlights of the upcoming 2020 Meeting:

  • Invited Guest Carlos A. Pellegrini, MD, FACS, Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Surgery at the University of Washington
  • Special guest David Hoyt, MD, FACS, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons and friend of our Chapter, will update the Chapter on the activities of the ACS
  • Women in surgery guest speaker, Myriam Curet, MD, FACS, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Intuitive Surgical
  • Standing room only session, the 12th Annual Resident Surgical Jeopardy Competition, will showcase all southern California residencies competing for the Dowden Cup
  • Learn and laugh at the Battle of the Blades, an animated debate on general surgery topics
  • More than 80 new research presentations, including a wine and cheese poster session
  • Rapid review What’s New in Surgery series
  • Young Surgeons’ Breakfast with mentorship from invited faculty
  • Women in Surgery Luncheon
  • Welcome Cocktail Reception for members and family
  • Breakout meetings from the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma and Commission on Cancer and the California Chapter of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery
  • Self-assessment CME for Maintenance of Certification available for the general, poster, and specialty sessions

Specialty Sessions include:

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

Save the dates Friday, January 10 through Sunday, January 12, 2020.  Click here for meeting and hotel information. The early bird discounted conference registration and room rate deadline is December 9th. However, the Four Seasons room block always sells out, so we strongly encourage you to make your reservations early.    

We hope you will join us at the 2020 SCCACS Annual Scientific Meeting to learn, network, and relax in a stunning resort among colleagues and friends. 

We look forward to seeing you in Santa Barbara January 10-12, 2020.