The Society of Graduate Surgeons has long held a Berne Professorship Lecture in honor of Clarence J. Berne, MD, — this year will be the 27th in the annual series — but after the passing of his son Thomas Berne, MD, in late 2017, the group decided to expand to a full-fledged Berne Academic Day to honor both venerated professors, which will be held March 15 on the Health Sciences Campus.

“The Department of Surgery has grown a lot due to the relentless dedication of the Berne family,” explained Ram K. Subramanyan, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and one of the organizers of the event. “This is a small way for us to recognize the family’s commitment to academic advancement of the department.”

The Berne family has had close ties to Keck Medicine of USC’s Department of surgery from the start: C.J. Berne performed the first surgical procedure in the old L.A. County hospital in 1932. More than 75 years later, his son Thomas Berne, MD, performed the first surgery in the newly opened Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center facility.

C.J. Berne was recruited to LAC+USC in 1932, shortly after completing his residency, and rose to become chair of the Department of Surgery in 1939. He served in that position for 28 years, pausing during World War II to serve as a Chief of Surgery of the 76th Evacuation Hospital in Burma, for which he received a Bronze Star. He is remembered for his encyclopedic medical knowledge and clinical innovations.

Thomas Berne graduated from the Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1960 and served his residency at what is now LAC+USC. After a renal transplant fellowship at Guys Hospital in London, he returned to establish the renal transplant program at LAC+USC and join the faculty, rising over the years to a tenured professorship. He became an internationally renowned expert in trauma surgery and surgical critical care and was instrumental in starting LAC+USC’s Level 1 Trauma Center.

Both Drs. Berne are remembered especially fondly as exceptional, beloved teachers who were mentors and role models to countless young doctors.

The first annual Berne Academic Day will kick off at the Aresty Auditorium with a resident research competition at 7 a.m., and will include abstract presentations from faculty, a panel discussion, and a box lunch and poster session.

This year’s lecture, at 9 a.m. in the Aresty Auditorium, will be “Traveling to the Next Horizon: Building Tomorrow’s Academic Leader,” presented by Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, surgeon-in-chief and director of the Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The day will conclude with the Society of Graduate Surgeons’ annual dinner, at which the Society which will honor the class of 1999 and induct the class of 2019.

— Lex Davis