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ABS Welcomes Three New Directors

July 3, 2023 Media Contact: Alyson Maloney, 215-568-4000

The American Board of Surgery (ABS), the national certifying body for general surgeons and related specialists, is pleased to welcome three new directors to the ABS Board of Directors. Each director will serve a three-year term, which began on July 1, 2023. All ABS directors are currently certified by the ABS and are meeting the requirements of the ABS Continuous Certification Program.

  • E. David Han, M.D.

    Dr. Han is the Robert Linton Kistner, M.D. and Adelaide Medart Kistner Family Professor of Surgery and chief of the division of vascular surgery at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. He currently practices vascular and endovascular surgery and his research and clinical interests surround surgical education and health policy.

    Dr. Han earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and then completed residency training at Emory University. He followed this with a clinical fellowship in vascular surgery at Mayo Clinic.

    "It is truly humbling to be asked to stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us," said Dr. Han on being selected for the board of directors. "I am excited and grateful to be a part of the team as we move forward, particularly in the area of competency and outcomes-focused education."

    Dr. Han has previously served the ABS as an examination consultant for the vascular surgery in-training exam and a member of the SCORE Editorial Board. He is also currently a member of the RVS Update Committee of the American Medical Association and chair of the Coding Committee of the Society for Vascular Surgery. Other positions he has held include vice chair of the ACGME Review Committee for Surgery, member of the Penn State University Board of Trustees, and member of the Penn State Health Board of Directors.

    In his free time, Dr. Han enjoys golfing and traveling with his wife and two children.


  • M. Timothy Nelson, M.D.

    Dr. Nelson is the Shepard Thompson Clingan Chair of Surgery, a professor of surgery, and the chair of the department of surgery at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Dr. Nelson earned his medical degree from University of California, Los Angeles, and then went on to complete residency training at University of California, San Francisco. He currently practices general surgery, and his research and clinical interests include peritoneal dialysis and surgical education.

    When asked about the future of the ABS and his role on the board, Dr. Nelson said, "We share a vision to 'Unify Surgery in the Pursuit of Excellence in Patient Care.' To accomplish this, we need to have competency-based metrics to establish what excellence looks like. Our commitment to Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) will be a big step forward in competence-based education. The future is exciting for American surgery."

    Dr. Nelson has also previously served the ABS as a councilor, chair of the General Surgery Board, and member of the Strategic Planning and Governance Redesign Task Forces. Other positions he has held include president of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery, chair of Advisory Council for General Surgery of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), and chair of the Committee of Chairs of the Advisory Councils of the ACS. From 2003-2007, he took a hiatus from American medicine and served as a missionary surgeon at Hôpital Protestante de N'Gaoundere, Cameroun.

    In his spare time, Dr. Nelson enjoys golfing, traveling, and creating memories with his family.


  • Gilbert R. Upchurch, Jr., M.D.

    Dr. Upchurch is the Edward M. Copeland III and Ann & Ira Horowitz Chair of Surgery and a professor of surgery at the University of Florida Department of Surgery. In addition to his academic appointments, he is also president of the Florida Clinical Practice Association and a member of the Shands Hospital Board of Directors.

    Born and raised in North Carolina, Dr. Upchurch completed medical school at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, followed by residency training and a vascular clinical fellowship at Harvard University's Brigham & Women's Hospital. He then went on to complete an endovascular fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. His current practice scope is vascular surgery with interests that include pathogenesis of aortic aneurysms and care of patients with complex aortic aneurysms.

    "I am excited to work with Dr. Buyske and all of the staff at the ABS," said Dr. Upchurch when asked about his new role on the board of directors. "Similar to my time on the Vascular Surgery Board, I will work hard to assure the public that the ABS is entrusted with making it safe to undergo surgery by providing rigorous testing throughout training and beyond."

    Dr. Upchurch has also served as a chair of the Vascular Surgery Board, a member of the ABS Council, president of the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery, vice president of the Southern Surgical Association, and president of the Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery. He currently lives in Gainesville, Florida, and enjoys sports, traveling, and reading in his spare time.


About the ABS
  • The American Board of Surgery is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1937 for the purpose of certifying individuals who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge in the field of surgery. Surgeons certified by the ABS have completed at least five years of surgical training following medical school and successfully completed a written and oral examination process administered by the ABS. They must then maintain their board certification through ongoing learning and practice improvement activities.
  • The ABS offers board certification in general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, complex general surgical oncology, surgery of the hand, and hospice and palliative medicine. It is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.
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