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Wayne Johnston Elected President of the Society of Vascular Surgeons

Wayne Johnston
Wayne Johnston
Vascular surgeon Wayne Johnston is capping his distinguished career as President of the Society of Vascular Surgeons - the first Canadian in the 62-year history of the Society. He has had many distinguished contributions and honours. He has served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Vascular Surgery, Founding Editor of Vascular Specialist, Founding Editor of VascularWeb, Associate Editor for four editions of Rutherford's Textbook of Vascular Surgery, the reference standard in the field, and now is Co-editor for the next edition.

Wayne has served the Department of Surgery as Chair of the Vascular Surgery Division for two decades, Associate Chair, and as Committee Chair for the Promotions Committee, Finance Committee, and 3-year Review Committee. He has served many outside agencies including Chair of the Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Committee and Chair of the Royal College Nucleus Committee for Vascular Surgery.

He holds the R. Fraser Elliott Chair in Vascular Surgery. He maintained continuous CIHR or Medical Research Council funding for his research with Professor Richard Cobbold from Biomedical Engineering for 30 years. He became interested in non-invasive diagnostic testing and biomedical engineering during his research fellowship at King's College Hospital and established one of the first non-invasive diagnostic laboratories in North America. He has been recipient of the Department's Lister Prize for Surgical Research.

A Silver Medalist Graduate of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine, he completed his general surgery and vascular training in Toronto and additional vascular fellowship at King's College in London, England. Wayne has a fascinating perspective on the evolution of vascular surgery and vascular surgery organizations. He chaired the Merger Committee when the American Association for Vascular Surgery joined the previously restricted academically elite Society of Vascular Surgeons. He helped overcome resistance to the merger by creating the category of Distinguished Fellow within the SVS to recognize those members who made major contributions to education, research and practice.

The highlight of his personal continuing education has been a James IV Traveling Fellowship, where he had the opportunity to think critically and reflectively about other ways of approaching the practice of medicine. Also, to further his own experience, he has been grateful to have been invited to visit numerous other universities as a lecturer and has been honoured by giving more than 10 named lectureships.

He led the field of vascular surgery in the performance of complex open procedures as well as vascular laboratory diagnostics and was among the first to introduce peripheral vascular angioplasty. Wayne's clinical study of the role of peripheral angioplasty in the early 1980s and report the world's largest prospective series of 997 well-studied patients was a major factor in the wide application of this technique. (In an echo of Y2K, his Hewlett-Packard '85 computer could not take 1000 entries into its matrix.) His trans-Canada prospective series of elective and ruptured abdominal aneurysms (887 patients operated upon by 72 surgeons during 9 months) remains the world's largest prospective detailed study and at the time established benchmarks for the surgical treatment of this problem.

In his role as an officer and active participant in organized vascular surgery, he has seen dramatic changes in the specialty. During the last decade, less invasive procedures, angioplasty, and stents have become an increasingly significant part of the practice of a vascular surgeon. There is some confusion among practitioners during this decade of change but in most centers the advanced endovascular skills of vascular surgeons have become clearly redefined. Interestingly, in the society of vascular surgery, the participation of practitioners on committees and work groups is at a high level, 240 members of the 2400 member society are actively engaged in committee and council work. This may reflect practitioners' need to be connected and informed in a period of dynamic change.

Wayne spends one or two full days per week or more helping to manage the Society of Vascular Surgeons or traveling on its behalf. On the day that I interviewed him, he had two ninety-minute conference calls scheduled for 5 and 8 p.m. and several hours' preparation to be sure they were effective. He learned his management skills through experience at the University of Toronto and by attending executive courses for professionals and volunteers to strengthen their skills in managing boards and working with administrative staff.

Wayne enjoys gardening, photography and is a devoted fan of Formula One auto racing. His son Matthew lives in Hong Kong and is VP for strategic planning for Asia for an international investment bank. His daughter Andrea has had a 10-year career as a professional modern dancer in New York City and continues dancing professionally along with a new position as an Occupational Therapist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. His wife of 40 years, Jean, is a neurologist and specialist in electrophysiology at St. Michael's Hospital.

He has had many mentors and collaborators throughout his career. He particularly remembers the major contributions of Bernie Langer, Bruce Tovee, Don Wilson, and Ron Baird. Professor Richard Cobbold in Biomedical Engineering has been a research collaborator for more than 30 years. He has enjoyed all aspects of his academic career but in particular patient care, resident teaching, graduate student supervision, and research.


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