Vickers named president of the American Surgical Association

Vickers, who is a world-renowned surgeon, pancreatic cancer researcher and pioneer in health disparities research, will take the reins of the foremost surgical association in the United States for 2021.
Written by: Mary Ashley Canevaro
Media contact: Bob Shepard


Environmental head shot of Dr. Selwyn Vickers, MD (Senior VP, Medicine; Dean, Medicine) in white medical coat in his office, 2018.Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACSSelwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Medicine and senior vice president for Medicine, has been named president of the American Surgical Association for 2021. 

Founded in 1880, the American Surgical Association is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious surgical organization. The organization’s membership includes those among the nation’s most prominent surgeons from the country’s leading academic medical institutions. The primary mission of the association is to be the premier organization for surgical science and scholarship. 

Vickers’ term was announced publicly at the American Surgical Association’s annual meeting in April. He is the third Black/African American president in the association’s history, and the second surgeon to serve as president from UAB. 

“Dr. Vickers has exhibited courageous, humble and compassionate leadership throughout his time in the Department of Surgery as well as in the School of Medicine,” said Herb Chen, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery. “He has advocated for underrepresented groups and steadily led us through an incredibly uncertain time. I know that his exceptional leadership skills will allow him to serve the members of the ASA and further the organization’s mission, vision, values and goals.” 

When Vickers was named president-elect last year, Kirby Bland, M.D., a past president of the ASA, Fay Fletcher Kerner Professor of Surgery, and chair emeritus of the Department of Surgery, said, “This nomination and election represent the highest honor that one can be bestowed with in the surgical profession of the United States.”

A world-renowned surgeon, pancreatic cancer researcher and pioneer in health disparities research, Vickers is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, part of the Institute of Medicine, and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. He has served as president of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract and the Southern Surgical Association. 

Vickers earned baccalaureate and medical degrees from Johns Hopkins University and completed surgical training there, including a chief residency and surgical oncology fellowship. He completed two postgraduate research fellowships with the National Institutes of Health and training at John Radcliffe Hospital of Oxford University, England.

In 1994, he joined the UAB faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery. In 2006, Vickers left Alabama to become the Jay Phillips Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School, one of the oldest, most prestigious departments in the country. He was the fourth chair in the department’s 115-year history.

In 2013, Vickers returned to UAB to serve as dean of the School of Medicine, where he currently leads the school’s main campus in Birmingham as well as the school’s regional campuses in Montgomery, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.

“One aspect of my career that I value most is caring for patients,” Vickers said. “This recognition of leadership in the surgical profession symbolizes my personal commitment to excellent patient care. To be honored by my colleagues in this way is as exciting as any accomplishment in my academic career to date.”