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University of Utah Thoracic Surgeon Thomas K. Varghese Jr., MD, MS, MBA, FACS, is new President-Elect of the Society of University Surgeons


Kathy Wilets, Senior Director of Public Affairs, University of Utah Health

Thoracic surgeon and surgeon-scientist Thomas K. Varghese Jr., MD, MS, MBA, FACS, is the 2023-2024 President-Elect of the Society of University Surgeons (SUS). His election was announced at the Academic Surgical Congress 2023 during the SUS Annual Business Meeting of Members on February 7.

Varghese’s one-year term as SUS President will begin in February 2024 following the Academic Surgical Congress, the joint meeting of the two leading associations for academic surgery—the Association for Academic Surgery (AAS) and the Society of University Surgeons (SUS). Together, the AAS and SUS have more than 5,000 members from leading institutions nationwide.

Varghese serves as the Chief Value Officer (Ambulatory and Inpatient) and Associate Chief Medical Quality Officer at Huntsman Cancer Institute. He also serves as the section chief of General Thoracic Surgery at the University of Utah and a tenure-track professor in the Department of Surgery at the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine at the University of Utah. 

Thomas Varghese, MD
Thomas K. Varghese Jr., MD, known for innovative research in perioperative care and mentorship to other physician-scientists, will become SUS President in February 2024.

Varghese’s clinical, research, and operational experience focuses on the optimization of patient health before surgery, surgeon performance, and health system outcomes. He helped create the American College of Surgeons’ Strong for Surgery program, an ACS quality program with 331 active sites across the nation. He has a robust track record of extramural funding, including as co-PI of the National Cancer Institute RO1-funded clinical trial on the role of Precision Exercise Prescription (PEP) for elective lung cancer surgical resection. He has actively mentored and sponsored students, residents, fellows, PhD candidates, and junior faculty, many of whom now serve in academic leadership roles across the nation.

In addition to his academic work, Varghese is passionate about the quest to build a better world through diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice efforts. He is a member of Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI) Governance Council and HCI’s Enterprise Leadership Council. Varghese had the honor of serving as the co-chair of the Association of Women Surgeons’ #HeForShe Task Force from 2017-2019, and he has served in several roles for the SUS, including the inaugural Chair of the SUS Justice.Equity.Diversity.Inclusion (J.E.D.I) Committee. In that role, he led the SUS Promising Leaders program for mid-career under-represented in medicine (URM) faculty and served as co-PI of an American College of Surgeons (ACS) Board of Regents Innovative DEI and Anti-Racism grant that led to the development of the SUS-AAS JUMPSTART program.

“The mission of SUS is promoting excellence and leadership in academic surgery,” Varghese said. “Scientific progress relies on problem solving and collaboration, where groups of people with diverse experiences and areas of expertise are empowered to lead, be more creative, and innovate. I am incredibly honored and blessed to serve our members and this wonderful organization as President-Elect.”.  

Established in 1938, with election to membership based on a track record of scholarly productivity, extramural funding, teaching, and leadership roles, the SUS is recognized as one of the world’s premier organizations dedicated to the advancement of surgical science. Its members have served at the highest echelons of surgery, playing crucial roles in virtually all of the critical developments within the field of modern surgery.