Exciting changes in the Scientific Forum this year

The Scientific Forum of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Clinical Congress has evolved since the concept was first introduced as the Surgical Forum in 1951. This year’s Scientific Forum will build on these transformations and will offer attendees greater exposure to the surgical research conducted by the ACS community.


The Surgical Forum was established in 1951 to provide a supportive venue for trainees and junior faculty to present and discuss their research. Presenting at the Forum has always been a rite of passage for aspiring academic surgeon-scientists. In 1993, the Surgical Forum was renamed to honor the program founder, Owen H. Wangensteen, MD, PhD, FACS, past-chair, department of surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

As surgical science evolved, the Program Committee developed a separate Scientific Papers session for established investigators and Fellows who were not early in their career. As these two programs evolved, it became increasingly clear that there was substantial overlap. In 2014, the Surgical Forum and Scientific Papers merged into a single entity under the oversight of the existing Surgical Forum Committee.

The merged program was renamed the Scientific Forum to reflect the contributions of the Surgical Forum and the Scientific Papers, and the committee was renamed the Scientific Forum Committee. Because of the increase in scientific abstracts resulting from this merger, the committee expanded its membership to reflect the type of scientific abstracts in the broader program. The basic and translational research focus of the Surgical Forum was expanded to include clinical research in health services, education, global surgery, ethics, and other evolving areas of surgical science.

These changes have revitalized the scientific effort. The number and quality of the abstracts submitted to the Scientific Forum has grown significantly—more than 2,000 abstracts were submitted for review for Clinical Congress 2018.

The spirit of the Surgical Forum has been maintained in the new Scientific Forum, continuing with the clustering of focused areas of research to encourage discussion and collaboration among the attendees. The Program Committee continues to place great emphasis on highlighting the work of young investigators while incorporating the expertise of senior investigators into the sessions.

Changes at Clinical Congress 2017

Quick Shots and e-Posters were introduced at Clinical Congress 2017 in San Diego, CA. Quick Shots are three-minute oral abstract presentations, which were incorporated into the Scientific Forum sessions. This addition, which allowed for more presenters in a session, was met with a positive reception.

The poster sessions were restructured to an electronic format. The e-Posters were placed in a central, dedicated location among the Scientific Forum sessions rather than the Exhibit Hall. The modern e-Poster sessions brought greater visibility to the poster presentations and energized the format. In the e-Poster room, special sessions were scheduled to highlight the exceptional research efforts of the surgical trainees through the Excellence in Research Awards and the Posters of Exceptional Merit. In addition, the Scientific Forum is dedicated to a senior surgeon-scientist who has demonstrated a career-long commitment to training surgeon-scientists and the academic mission.

To further promote and support surgical research, the Scientific Forum Committee partnered with the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS) to solicit the highest-rated abstracts for publication in JACS. In the first year, the top 5 percent of abstracts in the clinical sciences were solicited for manuscript submissions. More than half of those authors submitted a manuscript for review. All accepted manuscripts will be electronically published concurrently with the ACS Clinical Congress 2018 to provide greater visibility to the high-quality research being generated by the ACS community.

Clinical trials session added in 2018

The Scientific Forum Committee strongly believes the Clinical Congress is the premier venue to present practice-changing research. New for 2018, a call for late-breaking clinical trials abstracts was issued, and the committee selected six clinical trials that have the potential to change practice and improve patient care. This new clinical trials session will be presented at Clinical Congress 2018 Monday, October 22, at 9:45 am.

The ACS Clinical Congress is the largest surgical meeting in the U.S. The vision of the Scientific Forum Committee is for leaders of surgical trials to view the Clinical Congress as the premier venue to present their results. These exciting and transformative changes to the Scientific Forum will bring greater exposure to the leading-edge research in clinical care, while continuing to support and encourage young surgeon-scientists—the future of the study and practice of surgery—in their work.


The authors of this article are part of the Owen H. Wangensteen Scientific Forum Committee—Mary T. Hawn, MD, FACS; Edith Tzeng, MD, FACS; and Valerie W. Rusch, MD, FACS, are members, and M. Jane Burns, MJHL; Richard V. King, PhD; and Ajit K. Sachdeva, MD, FACS, FRCSC, are ACS staff.

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