The year 2020 marks the 80th anniversary of the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO), so it is appropriate to celebrate the vision and leadership of Dr. William MacComb, who led the formation of the James Ewing Society as an alumni organization of the Memorial Hospital in New York City. The Ewing Society was later renamed and reorganized as the SSO in 1975. Dr. MacComb was elected as the first and second President of the James Ewing Society from 1940 to 1942. He was elected onto the Executive Council when it first formed in 1947 as the Secretary/Treasurer from 1947 to 1948, as Vice-President from 1948 to 1949, and then continued as a member of the Executive Council for 3 years until 1952. He was elected again as Vice President from 1958 to 1959, as President-elect from 1959 to 1960, as President for a third time from 1960 to 1961, and then as Chair of the Executive Committee from 1961 to 1962. No other person in the history of the SSO was President for multiple terms and also was one of the founding leaders. For these reasons, it would be a fitting accolade to refer to Dr. William MacComb as “the Father of the Society of Surgical Oncology” (founded as the James Ewing Society). Dr. MacComb also served as President of both the American Radium Society (1950) and the Society of Head and Neck Surgery (1969). He one of the first surgical oncologist trained in head and neck surgery, and, uniquely, one of the first physicians to be Board Certified in Radiology because of his training and publications in therapeutic radiology. Dr. MacComb made important contributions in the field of Head and Neck surgery, as a pioneer in the development of radiation therapy and radiation physics, and for advancing the use of combined surgery and radiation therapy for head and neck cancers.
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