ACS president-elect resigns over controversial editorial

A Valentine's Day editorial with references to human mating habits written by Lazar J. Greenfield, MD, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) president-elect and emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, has ignited a controversy throughout the organization that eventually led to his resignation this past weekend.

The editorial, entitled "Gut Feelings," appeared in Surgery News, a publication that describes itself as "the official newspaper" of the College. The editorial has been removed from the College's website, but has since appeared on other national sites such as Retraction Watch.

The editorial first makes reference to the mating behaviors of fruit flies, and then mentions studies on the menstrual cycles of heterosexual and lesbian women who live together, reports the New York Times. It then mentions how female college students who had been exposed to semen were less depressed than their peers, and concludes with the statement: "So there's a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there's a better gift for that day than chocolates."

Following the flap, ACS announced earlier this month that Greenfield resigned voluntarily as editor of Surgery News, according to the Detroit News. On Sunday, Retraction Watch reported that Greenfield met with the College's Board of Regents and "after reaffirming his long-standing support for women in surgery," he resigned from his position as an officer of the College.

In its April 17 notice, the Board cited that Greenfield's contributions "to the field of surgery, including the invention of the Greenfield Filter, can not be overstated." It added: "We wish to honor Dr. Greenfield and celebrate his inestimable contributions to the College and the surgical community."

As determined by the Board, Patricia J. Numann, MD, FACS, the first vice president-elect of the College, will assume the office of president-elect.

For more details:
- see the Retraction Watch article on the editorial
- view the Retraction Watch article on the resignation announcement
- see the New York Times blog post
- here's the Detroit Free Press article

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