Citation for Prof. Pierre-Alain Clavien, MD, PhD, FACS, FRCSEng, FRCSEd

Professor Clavien

Professor Clavien

Mr. President, it is my honor to present to you a distinguished surgeon, surgical scientist, and surgical thought leader, Prof. Pierre-Alain Clavien of Zurich, Switzerland, for Honorary Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons.

One does not usually associate Switzerland with the production of fine wine, but Professor Clavien comes from a family in Valais that does just that. Given the energy our honoree applies to his work, I believe if he had chosen to follow in the family business, we would be consuming le vin Clavien ce soir.

Fortunately for us and those patients with liver disease, he chose to attend medical school in Geneva, completed a surgical residency in Basel, and then crossed the Atlantic to get his PhD and complete a clinical fellowship in hepatobiliary and pancreatic (HPB) surgery at the University of Toronto, ON. When his PhD work on organ preservation was presented, David C. Sabiston, Jr., MD, FACS, who was in the audience, offered Professor Clavien a job as head of Duke’s liver transplantation service on the spot. Professor Clavien remained at Duke for six years, rising to the position of professor and head of transplantation and HPB surgery. In 2000, he returned to Switzerland to become the head of surgery at the University of Zurich, a chair occupied 100 years before by Emil Theodor Kocher. To Swiss surgeons, that’s the top of the Alps.

Professor Clavien introduced the American system of sub-specialization in general surgery to Switzerland and established the Swiss HPB Center in Zurich, which has become one of the most important in Europe and draws patients from all over Europe and the Middle East.

He and his team have made great contributions to our understanding of basic mechanisms in liver disease, especially in the areas of organ preservation, ischemia reperfusion, and liver regeneration, and these studies have been applied to the care of patients. He has been a leader in bringing the methods of evidence-based medicine to the surgical profession. Several of his basic studies have been brought to randomized trials, and he has used these trials to settle important technical questions.

Professor Clavien has developed predictive scores for outcomes of liver surgery, as well as the widely used Clavien-Dindo system for grading severity of complications. He is at the forefront of developing new methods for defining the state of the art in surgical procedures through consensus conferences and applying those methods to answering difficult clinical questions, such as how to treat liver neuroendocrine tumors and how to choose a surgery department chair. Professor Clavien has been associated with publishing almost 500 peer-reviewed papers and several books, holding multiple leadership positions, and educating 50 research and clinical fellows.

If this summary sounds a bit like a precision Swiss watch, let me assure you that Professor Clavien is quite human. He has a wonderful wife, Sylvie, an ophthalmologist; three lovely children; and a good sense of humor often manifested in his questioning.

Mr. President, Professor Clavien of Switzerland is a surgeon completely devoted to the improvement of care for the surgical patient. Therefore, it is a distinct honor for me to present my student, my colleague, my teacher, and my friend Pierre for Honorary Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons.

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