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2019 Jacobson Innovation Award

Henry Buchwald receives ACS Jacobson Innovation Award 2019

International award recognises surgeon’s life-long pioneering work and innovative research in metabolic and bariatric surgery

The 2019 Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) was presented to Dr Henry Buchwald, at a dinner held in his honour, by ACS President, Dr Ronald V Maier, for his life-long pioneering work and innovative research. The prestigious Jacobson Innovation Award honors living surgeons who have been innovators of a new development or technique in any field of surgery and is made possible through a gift from Dr Julius H Jacobson II, and his wife Joan.

Dr Buchwald is a surgeon, researcher, inventor, teacher, and mentor with a career spanning more than five decades as a surgeon scientist. He is considered a pioneer of metabolic and bariatric surgery, formerly considered a fringe field for obese patients and excluded from mainstream academic surgical practice. Dr Buchwald helped transform bariatric surgery into a legitimate field of study and application.

Dr Buchwald earned a bachelor’s degree at Columbia College in New York in 1954 and in 1957 earned a medical doctorate at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, graduating from both institutions at the top of his class. He completed an internship at the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and then spent two years as Chief Flight Surgeon, SAC, in the US Air Force.

Since 1960, he has studied, worked, taught, and researched at the University of Minnesota, where he completed his residency training and also earned a master of science in biochemistry and PhD in surgery. Dr Buchwald trained with Dr Richard L Varco, one of the fathers of bariatric surgery who performed the first obesity surgery in 1953, and Dr Owen H Wangensteen, , one of the greatest surgical educators of the 20th century.

Dr Henry Buchwald was presented with the Jacobson Innovation Award on June 7 by ACS President Dr Ronald V Maier. Dr Buchwald was honoured with this international surgical award for his life-long pioneering work and innovative research (Credit: American College of Surgeons)

In 1966, Dr Buchwald joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota and today serves as professor of surgery and biomedical engineering. He was also appointed as the first Owen H and Sarah Davidson Wangensteen Chair in Experimental Surgery.

Early in his career, while he was a laboratory resident, Dr Buchwald discovered that the ileum, part of the small intestine, is the primary site for the absorption of cholesterol and bile acids. As a result, he developed the Buchwald Procedure: the partial ileal bypass (PIB) operation, which bypasses part of the ileum to lower cholesterol levels. The PIB procedure was one of the first surgical techniques to treat a metabolic disease and remains the most potent therapy to lower plasma cholesterol levels in humans today.

Among Dr Buchwald’s extensive research accomplishments is a landmark paper in Circulation that led to the multi-institutional trial on the surgical management of hyperlipidaemias: Program on the Surgical Control of the Hyperlipidemias (POSCH), which received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1973 to 1997. The trial proved the link between cholesterol and heart disease, demonstrating that lowering cholesterol can reduce heart disease and save lives.

Dr Buchwald has received seven additional NIH grants to study a totally implantable infusion pump device. He founded a separate bioengineering laboratory to produce the first implantable infusion pump, a novel peritoneovenous shunt, one-way flow catheters, and other devices. He later patented the infusion pump for widespread use in insulin delivery, continuous delivery of chemotherapy, and further applications. He holds 20 patents to his name and was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 1988.

The 53rd annual Surgical Forum at the ACS Clinical Congress was dedicated to Dr Buchwald as “a true surgeon scientist who, through creativity and perseverance, has made seminal contributions to science and society” and mentored more than 65 surgical residents and trainees. He has received numerous awards and honours, including a tribute in the US Senate Congressional Record in 1991. He has been elected to five presidencies of national and international professional societies.

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