CHICAGO (October 22, 2021; 10:00 am CDT): Julie A. Freischlag, MD, FACS, FRCSEd (Hon), DFSVS, an esteemed vascular surgeon from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will be installed for a one-year term as the 102nd President of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Dr. Freischlag assumes office Sunday evening, October 24, during a virtual Convocation ceremony that precedes the opening of the 2021 ACS Clinical Congress, also being held as a virtual event.
Dr. Freischlag is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Wake Forest Baptist Health, dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine, and chief academic officer of Atrium Health Enterprise. She joined Wake Forest Baptist in 2017 after nearly 30 years of experience as a practicing surgeon, mentor, educator, and leader within medical institutions throughout the U.S.
Dr. Freischlag succeeds J. Wayne Meredith, MD, FACS, as ACS President. Her installation is the first time in the College’s 108-year history that two surgeons from the same institution have served as back-to-back Presidents. Dr. Meredith is chair of surgery, chief of clinical chairs, and a trauma, thoracic, and critical care surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist.
In October 2020, Dr. Freischlag also began serving as chief academic officer of Atrium Health, a single enterprise that combines Wake Forest Baptist Health, Wake Forest School of Medicine, and Atrium Health. In this role, her focus is on driving leading-edge, experiential medical education and training for its academic mission and re-imagining the future of basic science and translational research.
Clinical and research accomplishments
Dr. Freischlag, who was named a member of the National Academy of Medicine in 2015, has been a committed surgeon-scientist throughout her distinguished career. She is an internationally renowned expert in the diagnosis and treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome, which the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines as “three related syndromes that involve compression of the nerves, arteries, and veins in the lower neck and upper chest area and cause pain in the arm, shoulder, and neck.”1
Furthermore, she was a national investigator of a multicenter randomized trial investigating the repair of abdominal aneurysms called the Open Versus Endovascular Repair (OVER) Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study. This nine-year trial enrolled more than 880 patients from 42 medical centers across the U.S. to compare outcomes of patients who underwent endovascular repair vs. open repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms,2 with short- and long-term findings published for more than a decade in the medical literature.
She has led or participated in research selected for millions of dollars in grants and awards on topic areas including aneurysms, vascular grafts, and peripheral vascular disease.
Service and leadership
A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) since 1991, Dr. Freischlag has served in various leadership roles within the organization. She served as an ACS Governor (2000–2006), wherein she served on the Board of Governors (B/G) Executive Committee (2001–2006) and as Secretary (2002–2006). She also served as Chair of the B/G Committee to Study the Fiscal Affairs of the College (2002–2006). Dr. Freischlag was an ACS Regent (2006–2015), serving as Chair of the Board of Regents (B/R) from 2012 to 2014. While she was an ACS Regent, she served as Chair of the Scholarship Committee (2006–2013), Nominating Committee (2006–2011), and Finance Committee (2010–2014), as well as a member of several other Regental committees. Dr. Freischlag has also served in other ACS leadership capacities, including as Chair of the ACS Committee on Education (2010–2018), Chair of the Scholarships Committee (2008–2012), and a member of the Advisory Council for Vascular Surgery (2006–2015). She was inducted as a member into the ACS Academy of Master Surgeon Educators on October 15, 2021.
Furthermore, she has held leadership positions in many leading surgical organizations. She was president of the Society for Vascular Surgery (2013); chair of the Society of Surgical Chairs (2010-2011); president of the Association of VA Surgeons (1999-2000); treasurer of the Association for Academic Surgery (1994-1997); and chaired the Credentials Committee of the American Board of Surgery (2003-2004).
Dr. Freischlag served as editor of JAMA Surgery/Archives of Surgery, associate editor of the American Journal of Surgery, and has been a member of the editorial board of many other prominent journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, the British Journal of Surgery, and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. She has published more than 300 original papers and written nearly 60 chapters in textbooks. Additionally, Dr. Freischlag has led nearly 300 invited lectures, workshops, or site visits since 2008.
Dr. Freischlag has been recognized many times for her achievements throughout her career. Among many other honors, she was awarded the Golden Scalpel Award for Outstanding Teaching as an assistant professor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1990 and 1991; the Golden Cane Award, Resident Teaching Award, at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1992 and 1994–1996; the Distinguished Member Award in 2000 and the Nina Starr Braunwald Award in 2010 from the Association of Women Surgeons; the Lifetime Achievement Award from West Los Angeles VA Hospital in 2006; the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of VA Surgeons in 2021; and honorary fellowship in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 2016. She continuously has been named one of the Best Doctors in America.
Other new ACS Officers
In addition to Dr. Freischlag, Quan-Yang Duh, MD, FACS, will be installed during the Convocation as ACS First Vice-President, and Richard A. Lynn, MD, FACS, RPVI, as ACS Second Vice-President. Dr. Duh, a preeminent general surgeon, practices at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he has worked for his entire career. At UCSF, Dr. Duh is professor of surgery, division of general surgery, and chief, section of endocrine surgery; he also is attending surgeon, VA Medical Center, San Francisco.
Dr. Lynn operated in private practice in West Palm Beach, Fla., from 1976 to 2013, when he retired. During his career, he also served as director, Vascular Laboratory of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach (1981–2013); and clinical assistant professor of surgery (2008–2013) and associate professor of surgery (2013–2014), Florida International University, Miami.