Mr. President, it is my honor to present to you a distinguished surgeon and leader, Prof. Toni Lerut of Leuven, Belgium, for Honorary Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons.
Professor Lerut received his medical degree and training in general surgery at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Early in his career, he was attracted to thoracic and esophageal surgery, first serving as a registrar in thoracic surgery with Mr. Ronald Belsey in Bristol, UK, and then completing a guest scholarship with David Skinner, MD, and Tom R. DeMeester, MD, FACS, at the University of Chicago, IL.
In 1976, Professor Lerut returned to the department of general surgery at the Catholic University of Leuven under the directorship of Prof. J.A. Gruwez, and there he developed an interest in transplantation. He quickly established his reputation as an excellent clinical and academic esophageal surgeon by publishing seminal contributions on esophageal cancer. After becoming a professor and head of general thoracic surgery at the university in 1989, he recruited bright, young, academic thoracic surgeons to help him establish the leading European center in thoracic surgery. Professor Lerut’s reputation as a clinician scientist and teacher attracted more than 70 international thoracic surgery fellows and PhD students. He has given numerous named lectures and authored more than 270 articles in international peer-reviewed journals and 80 book chapters. He is co-editor of Pearson’s Thoracic and Esophageal Surgery, the leading reference work in the field.
Professor Lerut has been the president of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the International Society of Diseases of the Esophagus, and the European Surgical Association. He is currently the chair of the European Union of Medical Specialists Section of Thoracic Surgery. Through these affiliations, he has increased the profile of European thoracic surgery.
Professor Lerut has been awarded honorary fellowships in 14 prestigious organizations, including the American Association of Thoracic Surgery, the American Surgical Association, the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the German Society for General and Visceral Surgery, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
Since his retirement, he has been a visiting scholar at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA; Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA; the University of Pittsburgh, PA; the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey; and Fudan University, Shanghai, China. In collaboration with physicians in Mali, The Gambia, Guinée, and Burkina Faso, he developed a teaching project to successfully treat children with caustic strictures.
Despite these accomplishments, Professor Lerut remains a humble gentleman who is beloved by his patients, students, and colleagues. As is the case with most great leaders, he has a supportive family behind him, including his wife, Gertji, and three children: Katja, a midwife; Philip, a vascular and thoracic surgeon; and Bob, an otolaryngologist. In his free time, he enjoys studying the history of medicine, traveling, the fine arts, classical music, and drinking fine wine with friends.
Mr. President, Professor Lerut is the role model for an academic thoracic surgeon. He is a respected technical surgeon, an accomplished scientist, an articulate teacher, a thoughtful leader, and, most of all, a caring physician. It is my great pleasure to present Prof. Toni Lerut for Honorary Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons.