New President honoured to lead RCSI during crisis

Prof Ronan O’Connell replaces outgoing President, Mr Kenneth Mealy, following the RCSI’s biennial Council Elections

The newly elected President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has said it was a great honour to be asked to lead the College during the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19.

Prof Ronan O’Connell takes up office following the College’s biennial Council Elections.

He replaces outgoing President, Mr Kenneth Mealy.

“It is my great honour to be elected as President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland,” Prof O’Connell said.

“My presidency of RCSI will be like no other in our 236-year history as the Covid-19 pandemic has presented our surgical community with unprecedented challenges that will shape the future of surgery for years to come,” he continued.

“Covid-19 may at present keep us apart physically but as a community of surgeons we are united in the task of re-establishing safe, timely and equitable access to elective surgery.

“I look forward to working with our community of 9,500 Fellows and Members across 86 countries as we face the challenges ahead, to sharing our expertise and to building a virtual network for continuing surgical education.”

Prof O’Connell is Emeritus Professor of Surgery at University College Dublin (UCD) and Consultant Surgeon at St Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH).

An international leader in the field of colorectal surgery, he is also the incoming President of the European Surgical Association (ESA).

“I am particularly conscious of supporting our surgical trainees whose training has been disrupted by the Covid restrictions,” Prof O’Connell continued.

“RCSI will use the excellent facilities of the National Clinical and Surgical Skills Centre at 26 York Street to provide innovative ways of training to compliment hospital experience. I will advocate on behalf of our trainees and will work with the Irish Medical Council and sister colleges to ensure training and career progression is secure.”

Educated at Terenure College and Trinity College Dublin, Prof O’Connell’s surgical training in Dublin and Cork was followed by specialist training in Colon and Rectal Surgery in the United States at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota.

He previously held the roles of Consultant /Senior Lecturer at the London Hospital and Consultant Surgeon at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. In 2002, he became a Newman Clinical Professor in UCD and in 2007 moved to SVUH as Professor of Surgery and Head of Subject in UCD.

Since his election to the Council of the RCSI in 2008, he has served on multiple committees and working groups within the College including: Chair of the Audit Committee; Irish Surgical Postgraduate Training Committee (ISPTC); and the Court of Examiners. He is an elected member of the Society of Pelvic Surgeons, ESA and the International Surgical Group. He is a former Secretary and President of the European Society of Coloproctology.

Prof O’Connell has published widely in the areas of inflammatory bowel disease, pelvic floor physiology and colorectal cancer, authoring more than 300 publications. He was Editor of the British Journal of Surgery from 1999 to 2006. He is the RCS England Hunterian Orator for 2019-2020.

He has been awarded Honorary Fellowships of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the College of Surgeons of Hong Kong, the American Surgical Association and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

Prof Laura Viani, Consultant Otolaryngologist and Neurotologist at Beaumont Hospital and the Children’s University Hospital Temple Street, has been elected as the new Vice-President.

She is Director and Professor of the National Cochlear Implant Programme and Hearing Research Centre.

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