Introduction: Olga M. Jonasson, MD, Lecture

Dr. Jonasson

Dr. Jonasson

In 2007, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Women in Surgery Committee (WiSC) established the Olga M. Jonasson, MD, Lecture, one of several Named Lectures delivered at the annual Clinical Congress. Dr. Jonasson (1934–2006) was a transplant surgeon who paved the way for the women surgeons of today. She was the first woman to chair a department of surgery and the first woman member of the American Surgical Association, the Society of University Surgeons, and the American Board of Surgery. Dr. Jonasson also served as the Director of Education for the ACS for more than a decade.

Dr. Canady with a patient

Dr. Canady with a patient

The WiSC is proud to have had a distinguished panel of speakers (see Table 1) present the Olga Jonasson, MD, Lecture. The speaker for the 10th lectureship was Alexa Canady, MD, FACS, the first African-American woman neurosurgeon in the U.S. Dr. Canady graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, in 1975. Against all odds, she rose to the role of chief of neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in 1987 and served in that position until her retirement in June 2001. She has received many honors, including the Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s Teacher of the Year award in 1984, and was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1993 she received the American Medical Women’s Association President’s Award, and in 1994 she was honored with the Distinguished Service Award from Wayne State University Medical School, Detroit. In 2002, the Detroit News named Dr. Canady Michigander of the Year.*

After her lecture at Clinical Congress 2016, in Washington, DC, the audience was invited to come forward with questions or comments. A surgical resident, Estell Williams, MD, rose to thank Dr. Canady for serving as a role model and to tell her own story. Both Dr. Canady’s lecture and Dr. Williams’ story are shared here as inspiration to us all.

Table 1. Olga M. Jonasson, MD, Lecture history

Year Lecturer Title


Nancy L. Ascher,
San Francisco, CA
The Ultimate in Surgical Translation: Transplantation


Anna M. Ledgerwood, MD, FACS,
Detroit, MI
Myths in Surgical Care


Karin M. Muraszko,
Ann Arbor, MI
Leadership Development and Mentoring in the Age of Restricted Work Hours


Nina Totenberg, Washington, DC Women in the Professions


Patricia J. Numann,
Syracuse, NY
Effective Advocacy


Carol-anne Moulton,
MB, BS, PhD, FRACS, Toronto, ON
Peeking Behind the Curtain—Surgical Judgment Beyond Cognition


Pauline W. Chen,
Haverhill, MA
Conduct Unbecoming


Barbara L. Bass,
Houston, TX
Our Lives As Surgeons: Finding a Sense of Place and Purpose


Julie A. Freischlag,
Sacramento, CA

*National Women’s Law Center. Faces of title IX. Alexa Canady. Available at: Accessed December 12, 2016.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. Changing the face of medicine. Dr. Alexa Irene Canady. Biography. Available at: Accessed December 12, 2016.

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