American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

News from the American College of Surgeons

For Immediate Release

Contact: Devin Rose | 312-202-5324
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Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS, is Named Medical Director of ACS Cancer Programs

Dr. Nelson, a colorectal surgeon from Rochester, Minn., is known for her research on improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACSCHICAGO (September 24, 2018): The American College of Surgeons (ACS) recently announced that Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS, a colorectal surgeon from Rochester, Minn., will be joining the ACS Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care (DROPC) as Medical Director, Cancer Programs, succeeding David P. Winchester, MD, FACS, as he transitions from the position he has served in for more than 30 years. Dr. Nelson comes to the ACS from her position as chair, and vice chair for research, of the department of surgery, Mayo Clinic, as well as professor of surgery, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Sciences, Rochester, Minn. She has master's faculty privileges in clinical and translation science at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.

As the Fred C. Andersen Professor for the Mayo Foundation and a consultant for Mayo Clinic's division of colon and rectal surgery, Dr. Nelson is internationally renown for her research in the field of colon and rectal cancer. The goal of her research activities has been to improve the duration of life and quality of life for these patients. These efforts have helped to reduce the impact of surgery on patients with early stage disease through the safe introduction of laparoscopic and minimally-invasive surgical approaches. Her work has also helped reduce the cancer burden in patients with locally advanced and recurrent rectal cancer through studies examining the role of complex surgeries and intraoperative radiation therapy. Dr. Nelson's work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons, and many other organizations. In addition to her clinical activities, she has led the Center for Individualized Medicine Microbiome Program at the Mayo Clinic, where she conducts, presents, and publishes research on the human microbiome and its connection to health and disease.

Dr. Nelson brings a wealth of experience from leading others and establishing strong results-oriented teams. She has mentored trainees and investigators, and has served as an editor and publisher for high-impact journals. She has also been very involved with the ACS throughout her career. Dr. Nelson became an ACS Fellow in 1993, and has served as former Director of the ACS Clinical Research Program, former co-chair of the ACS Oncology Group, and as a member of the Commission on Cancer Executive Committee.

Dr. Nelson will be starting work with the ACS this month on an initial part-time basis, overlapping with Dr. Winchester to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of leadership.

"The American College of Surgeons is excited about Dr. Nelson joining our Executive Leadership Team.  Her research acumen and leadership in the cancer care community are well known and widely respected. Her addition to our team will benefit our members, our relationships with cancer care organizations, and the patients whom we serve," said ACS Executive Director, David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS.

"FACS" designates that a surgeon is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

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About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit

About Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS
Dr. Nelson received a bachelors degree from Western Washington University, Bellingham, and her medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle. She completed an internship and residency in general surgery at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, where she also served as an American Cancer Society Fellow. She then went to the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, where she was a colon and rectal surgery fellow and also completed a research fellowship. Dr. Nelson returned to the University of Washington, where she was a Leo Hirsch Traveling Fellow. During her career, Dr. Nelson has won numerous awards and held memberships in many professional organizations, including the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, the Mayo Clinic Board of Governors, the Society of Surgical Oncology, and the Association of Women Surgeons, among others.