American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Galveston Surgeon Courtney M. Townsend, Jr., MD, FACS, is American College of Surgeons President-Elect


CHICAGO (October 19, 2015): Courtney M. Townsend, Jr., MD, FACS, the Robertson-Poth Distinguished Chair in General Surgery, department of surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Galveston, was elected President-Elect of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) earlier this month during the College’s Annual Business Meeting that was held during its 2015 Clinical Congress in Chicago, Ill.

A highly esteemed surgical educator, Dr. Townsend became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) in 1981. He has held many leadership roles in the organization, including Secretary (2006-2013), Chair of the ACS Board of Governors (2004-2005), and a member of the Board’s Executive Committee (1999-2003). Prior to that time, he served as a Governor representing the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (1986-1992).

Dr. Townsend has served in several capacities on the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons and on various ACS Committees. He served on the CoC Committee on Approvals (1989-1994), the CoC National Cancer Data Committee, the National Cancer Data Base Governing Board (1989-1995), the ACS Committee for the Forum on Fundamental Surgical Problems (1991-1994), the Committee on Papers (2000-2003), the Committee on Special Issues (1991-1994), the Member Services Liaison Committee (2003-2004), and the Nominating Committee of the Fellows (2000-2002).

He currently serves on the ACS Surgical Research and Education Committee, which he chaired for two years (1998-2000). At the local level, Dr. Townsend has served on the Southern Texas District #1 Committee on Applicants (1996-1999) and as President of the ACS South Texas Chapter (1988-1989).

Dr. Townsend is professor of surgery, department of surgery; professor of physician’s assistant studies, school of allied health sciences; and graduate faculty in the cell biology program at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, UTMB. He has a bachelor’s degree in history/English from the University of Texas, Austin. He earned his medical degree and completed his internship and general surgery training at UTMB. He completed a surgical oncology fellowship at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and was a McLaughlin Fellow twice, a Jeanne B. Kempner Fellow, an American Cancer Society Clinical fellow, and a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow.

Dr. Townsend’s first teaching position was as adjunct assistant professor of surgery, division of oncology, UTMB (1974-1976). He then spent two years (1976-1978) as staff surgeon and surgical director, intensive care unit, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, before returning to UTMB as an associate professor, department surgery in 1978. In 1981, he was promoted to Robertson-Poth Associate Professor of Surgery, and in 1982 he was appointed director, surgical research laboratory, UTMB. From 1983 to 1995, he was the Robertson-Poth Professor, department of surgery, and from 1987-1995 he was interim director, UTMB Cancer Center. He assumed his current roles as professor of physician’s assistant studies in 1989, as John Woods Harris Distinguished Chairman in 1995 (a post he held until 2013), as graduate faculty in the cell biology program in 2001, and as Robertson-Poth Distinguished Chair in General Surgery in 2009.

Dr. Townsend has been editor-in-chief of the Sabiston Textbook for Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice since 2000 and was the editor of Surgical Oncology (1992-1999). He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS), Surgery, and The American Journal of Surgery.

A distinguished surgical investigator, Dr. Townsend’s research in gastrointestinal endocrinology and cancer has been supported through grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Cancer Society. He has authored or co-authored 416 articles in peer-reviewed publications, 123 articles in other publications, and 364 scientific research abstracts.

Dr. Townsend has also served in leadership roles in several other medical organizations. He is past-director and chairman of the American Board of Surgery (2000-2006); served on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Residency Review Committee for Surgery (1994-1999); American Pancreatic Association president (1992-1993); American Surgical Association president (2007-2008); Southern Surgical Association president (2004); and Texas Surgical Society council member (1997-1999).  He is an honorary member of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons and the Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) and is a recipient of the John P. McGovern Lifetime Achievement Award in Oslerian Medicine.

Other new ACS Officers-Elect are Vice-President-Elect, Hilary Sanfey, MB, BCh, BAO, MCh, MA, MHPE, FACS, FRCSI, FRCS, and Second Vice-President-Elect Mary C. McCarthy, MD, FACS. Dr. Sanfey is professor of surgery and vice-chair for educational affairs, department of surgery; and associate director, Academy for Scholarship and Education, Southern Illinois School of Medicine, Springfield.  Dr. McCarthy is the Elizabeth Berry Gray Chair and Professor, department of surgery, Boonshoft School of Medicine, and adjunct graduate faculty, School of Engineering, Wright State University (WSU); and an acute care surgeon at Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, Ohio.

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About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit


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