Hello VESS Friends and Colleagues,
I humbly write to you to express my gratitude for the opportunity to lead this amazing group of vascular surgeons. First and foremost, congratulations to Matt Corriere for taking us through this unprecedented year of Zoom meetings, pivoted vascular surgery events, and society-changing social issues, and for safely presiding over our first-ever virtual annual meeting last month. Also, thank you to my good friend Jim Black for always providing the mature voice of reason as we grappled with numerous VESS issues, position statements, and infrastructure maturation that will culminate in this society being even stronger in the future. VESS has always been grounded in scientific discovery and early leadership opportunities, and the enthusiasm over the science and volunteerism of all VESS members was showcased by the quality of the scientific program in Sun Valley, ably led by Natalia Glebova. I thank her for her work as she hands off the Winter Program 2022 duties to Karan Garg. Before we get to next year, our continued partnership with the SVS will be highlighted at the VAM in San Diego in August when our VESS Spring Program, organized by Shang Loh, will further showcase the best science from our membership. Our membership is as strong as ever, reaching a milestone of over 1000 active members and an ever-increasing number of candidate members, who are the pipeline of our future success. To borrow from my favorite team, this is truly “Strength in Numbers”. Special kudos to Katherine Gallagher, Joanie Lugo, Jordan Stern, Gabby Velazquez, and John Rectenwald for making the Membership Committee, Fellows programming, and Medical Student programming top notch in this past year.
And so, on to this upcoming year for VESS. We hope to safely travel again, to re-convene and remind ourselves that vascular surgery is a social sport. The mentorship of bringing an interested student or resident or fellow to our spectacular meeting, the hallway (or ski run) introductions and conversations, the opportunity to collaborate with incredible surgeons and scientists, and the spark that is always renewed when we gather with our friends and colleagues and future leaders in vascular surgery is why I joined the VESS. I presented at my first VESS meeting in Aspen/Snowmass in 2008, with my membership originally sponsored by my loyal Stanford partner John Harris. Thirteen years later with much good fortune and because of so many role models in the VESS that I can call my friends, it is my absolute honor and privilege, as well as the highlight of my career, to serve as your President. In the challenging times of 2020, oft used phrases from our leaders were grit, determination, emotional intelligence, maturity, and intestinal fortitude. My trainees and partners know I prefer the term “emotional stamina”; simply put, that we can weather the ups and downs of our vascular surgery lives, responsibilities, and opportunities, and continue to present the best version of ourselves every single day with compassion and respect for our patients, our community, and to each other. Stay tuned this year for even more opportunities to contribute to clinical care, research, and education in our specialty. Let me be clear in 2021 that this is your VESS. Let us get to work now and continue to champion the science, camaraderie, partnership, opportunity, and diversity that has defined this surgical society.
Jason T. Lee, MD