by Jill Clendening
Kenneth Sharp, MD, professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgery in the Section of Surgical Sciences, has been named president of the Southern Surgical Association (SSA).
Founded in 1887, the SSA has more than 800 members who are surgical professionals practicing in surgery or a surgical subspecialty. SSA members are selected based on their distinguished service in surgical research, prominence in clinical surgery, leadership and medical education.
“I am incredibly honored to be elected to this position,” Sharp said. “Vanderbilt has such a distinguished history of leadership in the Southern Surgical Association, and I want this to continue in the future.”
Vanderbilt surgeons have long held leadership roles in the SSA, beginning when Barney Brooks, MD, the first chair of Surgery at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, was named president of the SSA during World War II (1942-1943); followed by H. William Scott, MD, (1977); past chair of VUMC’s Section of Surgical Sciences John L. Sawyers, MD, (1987); and Surgery Professor Emeritus James O’Neill, MD (2008).
“This is a prestigious honor, and we applaud Ken for his leadership in this important organization,” said Seth Karp, MD, H. William Scott Jr. Professor and chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences.
“The Southern Surgical Association is 135 years old, and Vanderbilt surgeons have had a prominent role in its history and achievements. We are grateful for Ken’s strong presence in this national forum.”
Sharp joined VUMC in 1984 and served as chief of the Division of General Surgery from 1995 to 2011. He currently serves as vice chair of Faculty Promotion and Development for the Section of Surgical Sciences and chair of the section’s Promotion Committee.
He earned his doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed general surgery training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1984.
Sharp has served in leadership roles for several professional surgical organizations, including serving in governance positions throughout the past two decades for the American College of Surgeons. In 2005, Sharp was inducted as a member of the American Surgical Association, the nation’s oldest surgical organization.
In 2021, Sharp was named an honorary fellow of the SSA. He joined O’Neill, who was named an honorary fellow in 2015, and Sawyers, who was named an honorary fellow in 2003.
“I first got to know Ken Sharp in the ’70s, so I have observed him for many years,” O’Neill said. “Ken is a superb, innovative surgeon, and he has done meaningful clinical research, which has been widely adopted. He has been honored at home as a surgical educator. He has contributed extensively and held leadership positions in the American College of Surgeons and the Southern Surgical Association.
“Most importantly, he has been a mentor of numerous young surgeons whom he helped develop their careers. In short, Ken Sharp has distinguished himself as a leader and contributor, and he’s brought credit to Vanderbilt.”
Sharp’s clinical interests include the gastrointestinal tract and applications of minimally invasive surgical procedures in that area. He has a particular interest in the use of minimally invasive techniques for anti-reflux procedures, including surgery for esophageal motility disorders.
In addition to the SSA, Sharp is a member of the American College of Surgeons, the American Gastroenterological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Surgical Association, the Association for Academic Surgery, the Association for Surgical Education, the Nashville Surgical Society, the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons, the Southeastern Surgical Congress and the International Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Association.
Sharp has served as president of the Tennessee Chapter of the American College of Surgeons and is a past president of the Southeastern Surgical Congress. He has served on committees for the Association for Surgical Education, the Nashville Surgical Society, the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract and the National Board of Medical Examiners.
He has also served as a governor of the American College of Surgeons and as the secretary-director of the Southeastern Surgical Congress. He currently serves as a regent on the ACS Board of Regents.