News Items


The Local Hero Award was created to honor an individual from the host city of the ASCRS Annual Meeting who have made an extraordinary impact on colon and rectal disease.

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Rolf Benirschke grew up in a medical family in San Diego as the son of a world-renowned Pathologist who was always challenging him to make his life count for something more.

However, instead of following in his family’s medical footsteps, Rolf’s career began in the NFL serving as placekicker for the San Diego Chargers.

As an NFL placekicker, his star was rising fast when in his second season he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Rolf underwent a colectomy with anastomosis that leaked and caused severe sepsis. He had several operations performed by colorectal surgeons who saved his life. Yet his experience inspired some early ideas on how he might follow his father’s early advice to make his life count for something more.

Meanwhile, he returned to the NFL where he played with an ileostomy and a mucous fistula for a total of 10 years and earned his spot as the third most accurate placekicker in NFL history plus numerous honors, including the Pro Bowl and NFL “Man of the Year” award.  

Outside the NFL, Rolf made his ulcerative colitis journey count by creating a nationwide patient advocacy and support program for those facing ostomy surgery and IBD. For 36 years, Rolf has been providing inspiration and encouragement to patients around the world who live with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colorectal and bladder cancer or other circumstances that can lead to ostomy surgery.  

Rolf has written three books — Alive & Kicking, which details his battle with ulcerative colitis and other health issues, Great Comebacks from Ostomy Surgery, and Embracing Life, two books featuring inspirational stories of people who have survived and thrived following ostomy surgery.

In 2009, his visionary work as a patient advocate led him to co-found Legacy Health Strategies, an industry-leading strategic marketing firm that develops patient support, disease awareness, and treatment compliance initiatives for medical device and pharmaceutical companies.

Rolf is married to Mary Michaletz Benirschke, a speech pathologist, and they reside in San Diego. The couple has four children, Erik, Kari, Tim, and Ryan. Three of his children have special needs including cerebral palsy, brain injury and developmental delays, which further sparks the couple’s advocacy for those in need and gives them more compassion and understanding of life’s gifts and challenges.

“It’s not what you become, it’s what you overcome.” (Rolf)


The Jagelman Award honors the memory of Dr. David Jagelman, whose advocacy for his patients at the Cleveland Clinic is legendary. 

Dr. Jagelman founded and directed the Cleveland Clinic’s Familial Polyposis Registry and had become chair of the Department of Colorectal Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Florida shortly before he died from kidney cancer in 1993, at age 53.   

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In 2004, Kristin Lindquist started planning for the very first Get Your Rear in Gear® run after losing her best friend and sister, Susie Lindquist Mjelde, to colon cancer. What started as one women’s vision has since grown into the Minneapolis-based Colon Cancer Coalition, a national coalition of people determined to end colorectal cancer deaths by increasing screening and educating others about the signs and symptoms of colon cancer. The Coalition wants all people to understand their risk factors and get the right screening at the right time.

Their signature Get Your Rear in Gear® and Tour de Tush® event series are volunteer-driven in communities throughout the United States. In 2017 alone they granted over $1 million to local community programs to raise screening rates, increase awareness, and educate the public about the signs and symptoms of this disease.

Reflections on a Very Productive Year from ASCRS President Dr. Neil Hyman

As my year as president comes to a close, I thought it might be helpful to summarize a few of the changes and initiatives we have implemented. It is just over one year since we transitioned to self-management, and a lot has been accomplished to set us on a course of efficient, effective and sustainable self-governance:
  • We have implemented a systematic approach to task completion and leadership roles, so the wheel will not be reinvented with each new president.
  • Instead of frequent emails with bits and pieces of information coming at unpredictable times, our staff provides us with a weekly ASCRS digest with curated and selected updates for the membership.
  • I was especially pleased with the creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force under the leadership of Drs. Erin King-Mullins and Wayne Tuckson that has now become a standing committee of ASCRS. With their help and guidance, we have made a number of meaningful changes in how all of our members can participate, lead and have their voices heard. For the first time this year, we will be reaching out to underserved communities as a routine to try and improve access to screening and high quality care for colorectal cancer. Every time ASCRS visits a city for our Annual Meeting, we will routinely partner with local communities to make this a standard initiative.
  • Our Mentoring Task Force has successfully completed a pilot aimed at our early career members under the guidance of Dr. Ann Lowry's steady hand, and these opportunities will be greatly expanded in the year ahead.
  • Drs. Alessandro Fichera, Mike McGee and Lisa Cannon have successfully launched a video-based mentorship series, aimed at creating a community of mutually respectful learners who share and discuss tricks of the trade through review of operative videos. Over 300 ASCRS members registered for the last session focused on high IMA/IMV ligation.
  • Dr. Najjia Mahmoud is leading efforts to revamp our educational platform, which we anticipate will be a “one-stop-shop” for all ASCRS educational assets.
  • Dr. Larissa Temple has been designing and planning a society-wide quality collaborative, so we can all work together to define best practices and allow us all to benchmark our outcomes in a supportive and constructive manner.
There are so many other "irons in the fire" and I sincerely apologize that space constraints only allow me to highlight a few of them. We have so many incredibly talented members with great ideas, and a major focus of my year has been to make ASCRS a bit more “bottoms up” (pun sort of intended) and provide an opportunity for more folks to participate and lead. I don’t like to brag, but this has really allowed me to do what I do best…..take credit for other people’s work!
On a more serious note, I think it is critically important that we all register for and participate in this year's virtual Annual Scientific Meeting. Of course, we ALL look forward to seeing each other, but a virtual component to our meeting is here to stay and we will be especially interested in your opinion on what worked and what did not. I think you all will be amazed by what can be accomplished virtually and blown away by the incredible program that Program Chair Konstantin Umanskiy and Co-chairs Emily Huang, Radhika Smith and Emily Steinhagen have put together for us. There’s never been a more important time for all of us individually and for our specialty to make the extra effort to connect with each other.
Lastly, I wanted to thank David Westman and our incredible staff for their hard work and help throughout the year. I am grateful to the Executive Council, our Committee Chairs, hard working committee members and the entire membership for their support, advice and partnership throughout this crazy year. I cannot emphasize enough how lucky we are to have Dr. Tom Read in the on-deck circle as the next president. He has been a strong and steadfast "consigliere" for me this past year and is clearly a leader of the highest intellect, integrity and vision.

Nominees for ASCRS Fellow and International Fellow

Becoming a Fellow or International Fellow of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons is a rigorous process befitting the remarkable achievements of this highest class of membership. ASCRS Fellows enjoy the right to vote, hold office, serve on any committee of the Society, attend and appear on scientific programs and participate in discussions of scientific papers. Fellows are alternatively known as  “voting members” of ASCRS. Each year the current voting members are asked to give formal approval to applicants for Fellow and International Fellow membership in ASCRS, who have met the rigorous requirements.
The following members have been found qualified for consideration for ASCRS Fellow member status:

International Fellows
Francisco Abarca Rendon, MD
Giovanni Dapri, MD
Maria Michailidou, MD
Rohin Mittal, MD
Diego Naiderman, MD
Sarhan Sydney Saad, MD, PhD
Marie Dione Parreno Sacdalan, MD
Anthonia Adewole, MD*
Piyush Aggarwal, MD
Jennifer Agnew, MD
Bader Alshaban, MD*
Anushka Arumugasaamy, MD
Theodor Asgeirsson, MD
Greta Bernier, MD
Avinash Bhakta, MD
Kristina Booth, MD
Matthew Brady, MD
Stephen Brandstetter, MD
Ahmed Chadi, MD
Ayana Chase, MD
Matthew Chauviere, MD
Jill Clark, MD*
Ohmar Coughlin, MD
Thomas Curran, MD, MPH
Michelle DeLeon, MD, FACS
Jeffrey Douaiher, MD
Joanne Favuzza, DO
Justin Fischer, MD
Wissam Halabi, MD
David J. Hiller, MD
Christine Hsieh, MD
Michael Huck, MD
Nimalan Jeganathan, MD
Gifty Kwakye, MD, MPH
Erica Laipply, MD
Lawrence Lee, MD
Kathleen Lee, MD
Jason Lei, MD
Nicole Lopez, MD
Sridevi Maddineni, MD
Tafadzwa Makarawo, MD
Nathalie Mantilla, MD
Benjamin Martin, MD
Kiranmayi Palla Muddasani, MD
Jennifer Paruch, MD
Nikhil Patel, MD
Uma Phatak, MD*
David Rosen, MD
Dan Enger Ruiz, MD
Maryam Naseem Saidy, MD
Daniel Sarmiento, MD
Jeffrey Scow, MD
Beth-Ann Shanker, MD
Holly Sheldon, MD
Benjamin Shogan, MD
John Tillou, MD
Poornima Vanguri, MD
Maria Sophia Villanueva, MD
Nicole Wieghard, MD
Lauren Wilson, MD
Matthew R. Wilson, MD
Joshua Wolf, MD
Christian Zalai, MD

The ASCRS Annual Business Meeting and State of the Society Address will take place Tuesday, April 27 at 12:15 PM EDT/ 11:15 AM CDT/ 10:15 AM MDT/ 9:15 AM PDT

*NOTE: Subject to approval by the Executive Council at their meeting April 24, 2021, the member applicants above will be added to the list of Fellows for official approval during the 2021 Annual Business Meeting.

Meet the 2021 Honorary Fellow Nominees

Each year the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) recognizes up to six (6) Honorary Fellows. Honorary Fellowship is designed to honor individuals, regardless of specialty, recognizing outstanding achievements and contributions made to fields related to Colon and Rectal Surgery. Nominees for Honorary Fellow should have significantly contributed to peer-reviewed literature and/or introduced, fostered and/or advanced innovation and/or education in the specialty of colorectal surgery; demonstrated significant and/or sustained leadership within their national or regional society; developed and promulgated significant clinical and/or research and/or technological advances in the field of colon and rectal surgery.

The ASCRS Nominating Committee submits the following slate of 2021 Honorary Fellows for election at the Society's Annual Business Meeting.

Dr. Nasser Al-Sanea
Dr. Al-Sanea is Professor of Colon and Rectal Surgery at Alfaisal University and Consultant and Heald of the Section of Colon and Rectal Surgery at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He established the Saudi Society in Colon and Rectal Surgery, the Saudi Fellowship in Colon & Rectal Surgery, the Enterostomal Therapy Diploma, and the Saudi Hereditary Colon & Rectal Diseases Registry at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (KFSHRC). His other responsibilities include:
  • Director General, Health Affairs, Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University
  • Vice-President, International Society of University Colon & Rectal Surgeons
  • Director of the Saudi Registry for Hereditary Colorectal Diseases
  • Editor-in-Chief, World Journal of Colon & Rectal Surgery Editor-in-Chief & Annals of Saudi Medicine
  • Editor-in-Chief, Al-Takhassusi Magazine
  • Editorial Board Member, Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology
Dr. Nam Kyu Kim, Seoul, Korea                             
Dr. Kim is an academic and research leader in colon and rectal surgery in Korea, as well as a leader in robotic colorectal surgery in Korea, with 55 grants and 11 clinical trials. Developed department of surgery at Yonsei University, Seoul Korea into its current prominence in region. He had held leadership positions in multiple Korean and Asia Pacific surgical societies including:
  • 2009-2011: Chairman of Board of Regents of Korean Society of Coloproctology
  • 2010-2014: Chairman of Board of Regents of Korean Society of Surgical Oncology
  • 2012-2017: President of Asia Pacific Colorectal Cancer Association 
  • 2017-Present: Member of National Academy of Medicine, Korea
  • 2017-Present: Associate Editor, Disease of the Colon and Rectum
  • 2014-Present: Emeritus Editor in Chief, Annals of Coloproctology
  • 2018-2019: President of Multidisciplinary Cancer Commission 
  • 2018- Present: Governor, Chapter of South Korea, American College of Surgeons
Mr. Charles Knowles                                               
Mr. Knowles is Professor of Surgery, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) He is a leading researcher in basic and clinical science aspects of pelvic floor disorders and GI neuromuscular diseases, as well as a leader in the development of international research and clinical collaborative efforts. His leadership roles in that area include:
  • Deputy Director NIHR Pragmatic Clinical Trials Unit (PCTU) (2018 to date): The unit specialises in evaluation of complex interventions e.g., surgery
  • Director of National Bowel Research Centre
  • Barts Life Sciences: NHS Trust Board Lead for Surgery
  • Acting Chair of Research Committee, Cleveland Clinic London.
  • Chair of Grants Committee and Trustee. Bowel Research UK (2020 to date).
  • Clinical advisor to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Continence Care (from 2015 to date).
  • R&D lead to the National Pelvic Floor Society, affiliation: Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland (from 2013 to date).
  • Chair of Research Committee: European Society of Coloproctology. Strategic oversight of growing portfolio of global studies (snapshot audits and now randomized trials e.g., EAGLE) (2018 to date).
  • Chair of the International Continence Society ICI guideline committee for faecal incontinence surgery (2018 to date).
Dr. Thandinkosi Madiba                              
Dr. Mandiba is Emeritus Professor of Surgery, Senior Research Associate Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Group Department of Surgery, The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Durban, South Africa.  His career has included many “firsts” as well as multiple leadership positions. They include
  • First African to become a full Professor of Surgery at UKZN
  • First African to become Head of the Department of Surgery at UKZN
  • Established the Durban Colorectal Unit and Clinic at lnkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban
  • Founding member & Past President of the South African Colorectal Society
  • Past President of the Association of Surgeons of South Africa
  • First African to be awarded to International Scholarship of the ASCRS in 2002
  • First person from the African continent to become an International Fellow member of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Dr. April Roslani                                          
Dr. Roslani is Professor of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Malaya. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She also serves as Dean, Dean's Office, Faculty of Medicine, and Deputy Director (Surgical), University Malaya Medical Centre, University Malaya. Dr Roslani has served in leadership positions in multiple Malaysia and Asia Pacific professional societies including:
  • College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, Honorary Secretary, 2013
  • International Council of Coloproctology, Member, 2015 to 2018
  • Asia Pacific Federation of Coloproctology, Council Member, 2015 to 2017
  • ASEAN Society of Colorectal Surgeons, Council Member, 2016 to 2018
  • College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, Vice-President, 2016
  • Malaysian Society of Colorectal Surgeons, Honorary Secretary, 2017
  • Asia Pacific Federation of Coloproctology, President-Elect, 2017 to 2019; President 2019. 
  • Malaysian Society of Colorectal Surgeons, Vice President, 2019
  • College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, President, 2019
  • International Society for Digestive Surgery (ISDS), Executive Committee Member, 2019 to 2021
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