Halsted Society Meeting shines a light on MUSC surgical expertise

halsted members

Surgical leaders from around the country attended the annual meeting of the Halsted Society in Charleston in September.  The MUSC Department of Surgery served as the 2019 host, bringing great prestige to our University and providing an opportunity to showcase our faculty, research and innovation to national leaders.

The Society honors William Stewart Halsted, an American pioneer of scientific surgery who was an early champion of anesthetics, introduced new operations, and established the first surgical school in the U.S. Halsted is one of Johns Hopkins University’s founding physicians and his impact to the discipline of surgery was great.

A year after his death in 1922, the Halsted Society was formed to honor Dr. Halsted by furthering the scientific ideals for which he stood. The Halsted Society is one of the most prestigious surgical organizations in the country; selected members are pillars of the surgical community and have reached the pinnacle of their success. The meeting format of having a day of presentations at a member’s host institution provides opportunities to learn about what is new on the horizon at some of the most prominent institutions in the country.

“As a Halsted member, I can appreciate the unique opportunity that this annual meeting presents to deepen relationships, offer new cultural experiences, and highlight accolades of the host organization. I’m proud that we had an opportunity this year to showcase MUSC, as well as our beautiful city,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC President.

On Thursday of the event, the MUSC Department of Surgery held a full day of scientific sessions on the MUSC campus. More than 90 Halstedians attended, as well as faculty and leaders in the MUSC community. MUSC President David Cole, College of Medicine Dean Ray DuBois, and MUSC Health CEO Pat Cawley all provided welcome remarks that were insightful, illustrating where we are going as an institution -- driving change to allow for a better future for the patients we serve.

The academic sessions highlighted MUSC’s academic excellence, surgical expertise, innovation and entrepreneurship, with panel discussions at the end of each section, allowing for optimal opportunities for MUSC faculty to engage with these national leaders.

Dr. DuBois commented how fortunate we were to have the opportunity to highlight MUSC and the work being done here to such a prestigious group of surgical leaders from some of the country’s foremost institutions. “The members of this group are at the top of their field, and they were duly impressed by the science and hospitality that they experienced here,” said DuBois.

When Prabhakar Baliga, M.D., FACS was appointed chair of the Department of Surgery in 2015, he aspired to raise the department to a nationally recognized department of surgical excellence. “We consistently garner  a lot of local and regional recognition for the work we do,” said Baliga. “The opportunity to host – and the subsequent success of the meeting - was a significant milestone in strengthening the national recognition of the MUSC Department of Surgery.”

Along the way, we learned some things about each other and about our city. A unique group of leaders who travel to host institutions each year to learn about the latest leading edge innovations and surgical procedures, Halsted Society members also look forward to learning about the culture and the arts of their host city, enjoying collegial time together after the daily scientific sessions. The three-day scientific meeting was complemented with insightful tours and customized receptions that highlighted our beautiful and historically significant city, including:

  • A walking tour with led by Dr. Ade Ofunniyin, grandson of the legendary Charleston Blacksmith, Philip Simmons, and founder of the Gullah Society, who provided an insightful conversation on the Gullah Geechee contributions to the Lowcountry.   
  • A visit to The Charleston Library Society, where the treasures from the vault, including such gems as a handwritten letter from George Washington, were on display for our guests. And a visit to the Roper House, part of the American Classical Homes Preservation Trust.
  • A special performance of The Sound of Charleston, including spirituals sung by Ann Caldwell, Porgy & Bess’s Summertime performed by soprano Diamond Tyler, and Rhapsody in Blue performed by piansists Ghadi Shayban and Maida Libkin.
    •  Reception, musical performance and Black Tie Dinner Photo Gallery 

Although the impact of being the host institution is hard to measure in a tangible way, Baliga  observed that the overwhelming number of complimentary emails and notes he received from the members of the Society for weeks after the meeting was astounding and offers insight into the success of the meeting.

“The fact that people are still talking about the meeting weeks afterwards, both internally and externally, is a significant indicator that this event further elevated the MUSC brand on a national level,” said Baliga. “And for that I thank each and every one of you who participated, shared your knowledge, and helped shine a light on the Department of Surgery to this audience of national leaders.”