George Berci, MD, FACS, has received the highest honor bestowed by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), with the largest, most prestigious surgical organization in the nation recognizing him as a pioneer who developed the endoscopic and laparoscopic techniques that provide the basis of all minimally invasive surgeries performed today.
In his decades at Cedars-Sinai, Berci not only has led his field with new visualization techniques, instrument minimizing and high-definition cameras, he also has worked at the fore of the profession to improve patient care, increase safety and better surgical outcomes.
The ACS honored Berci and his 50 years of achievements recently by presenting him at a dinner in his honor in Washington, D.C., with the 17th annual Jacobson Innovation Award, which recognizes those whose work has led to a milestone in the advancement of surgical care.
Berci, 90, began his surgical career in 1953 in Budapest, where he helped establish one of the first experimental surgery programs in Europe. His passion for creating tools to improve the imaging and viewing capabilities of endoscopes brought him to academic institutions around the world for the past 40 years. He now leads the field of endoscopic surgery from Cedars-Sinai, where he is senior director of Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Research.
“George Berci’s life-long contribution to the field of surgery is unmatched and almost unimaginable by the millions of surgical patients who have benefited so greatly from his originality,” said Edward Phillips, MD, executive vice chair of the Department of Surgery  at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center , chief of the division of general surgery, director, Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center -- A Project of Women's Guild, director, Wasserman Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Program and director, Weight Loss Center.
Phillips, who has collaborated with Berci on projects spanning 20 years and holds the Karl Storz Chair in Minimally Invasive Surgery in Honor of Dr. George Berci, said of his colleague: “He has truly revolutionized our field.”
More than a half century after he pioneered endoscopy techniques and technologies, Berci continues his pathbreaking work in the field, which most recently has included creating and using an enhanced endoscopic method to intubate patients with particularly difficult airways.
Berci joined the department of surgery in 1970 by the invitation of former chief of surgery Leon Morgenstern, MD, and with his help established the medical center’s first multidisciplinary endoscopic surgical division. During his tenure at Cedars-Sinai, Berci has held numerous leadership positions, including director of the Surgical Simulation and Training Laboratory and director of the Endoscopic Research laboratory.
Berci’s work has led to the introduction of diagnostic and therapeutic use of laparoscopes for ob-gyn specialists and development of the techniques that have enabled surgeons to remove colon polyps without open surgery.
Besides all the developments Berci created, conceptualized or collaborated on, he has written 12 books and more than 200 scientific papers and produced more than 40 teaching films.
Since 1994, the American College of Surgeons’ Jacobson Innovation Award has been presented to surgeons who have combined original thought with the creation of techniques that have led to a milestone in the advancement of surgical care.
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization founded to raise the standards of surgical practice and care of surgical patients. The college has more than 77,000 members around the world.