Global leader in colorectal surgery, EDI advocate named Honorary Fellows

Celebrate a peer with a nomination! The call for 2024 Honorary Fellowship applications is now open.

Ronan O’Connell, MD, FRCSI, emeritus professor of surgery at University College Dublin, and Jamiu Busari, MD, MHPE, PhD, CCPE, pediatrician and dean at Horacio Oduber Hospital in Aruba, are  2023 Honorary Fellows of the Royal College. This recognition is bestowed upon exceptional physicians, surgeons or other individuals who are not eligible for Fellowship and have demonstrated outstanding performance in a particular vocation or a specific area of professional activity related to the field of medicine.

Innovator and leader in colorectal surgery 

Dr. O’Connell, immediate past-president of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), has made a global impact through his long and distinguished career in colon and rectal surgery. He has demonstrated leadership and excellence in clinical care, research, education and service. 

Dr. Ronan O’Connell, right, with his wife Pauline

Dr. Ronan O’Connell, right, with his wife Pauline, during his tenure as president of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (submitted photo). 

During his tenure as RCSI vice president and president, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences has “markedly strengthened its programs and faculty to better serve the population of Ireland,” says Kenneth A. Harris, MD, FRCSC, and former deputy CEO of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

A sought-after visiting professor and speaker, Dr. O’Connell is widely respected for his leadership in difficult areas of surgery. He was instrumental in developing a strategy to reduce the incidence of obstetrical injury to the pelvic floor and is an expert in the surgical treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer — a technically challenging area of surgical oncology.

“Last year, he gave the Grace Lecture to the Southwestern Surgical Association on the topic of pelvic injuries suffered by mothers during delivery,” says Vivian McAlister, MD, FRCSC, and professor emeritus at Western University. “The passion with which he has tackled this distressing but neglected condition was inspirational.”

Dr. O’Connell is extensively published, having authored more than 300 publications on inflammatory bowel disease, rectal cancer and the pathophysiology of the pelvic floor. He holds Honorary Fellowships with several surgical colleges and societies, including the Royal College of Surgeons of Glasglow, Edinburgh and England, the College of Surgeons of Hong Kong, and the American Surgical Association.

Dr. O’Connell also served the research community through various editorial roles, including editor of the British Journal of Surgery, associate editor and editor in chief for the European Surgical Association and associate editor of Diseases of the Colon and Rectum. He is currently an editorial board member of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, a senior board member of the Annals of Surgery and the editor in chief of the renowned Bailey and Love’s Short Practice of Surgery, now in its 28th edition.

W. Donald Buie, MD, FRCSC, and professor of surgery and oncology at the University of Calgary, worked with him as co-editor of the journal Diseases of the Colon and Rectum. He describes Dr. O’Connell’s ability to evaluate and critique manuscripts as “second to none.”

Taking down barriers, empowering others

Dr. Jamiu Busari is widely recognized for unwavering leadership in health care and advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). A pediatrician; African by heritage and British by birth, Dr. Busari has been open about his experience and challenges as a Black doctor. 

Dr. Jamiu Busari as the moderator at a medical education conference

Dr. Jamiu Busari as the moderator at a medical education conference in Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm Sweden (submitted photo). 

“He has had to break stereotypes, shatter artificial ceilings and work to overcome significant systemic biases,” says Victor Do, MD, and incoming chief resident at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. “Through all of this, he has remained steadfastly committed to excellence, kept a positive attitude and used his own privilege and power to improve the lives of others. He has paved a path for other persons of colour and from ethnic minority groups to spread their wings and make their mark in medicine. It is on the shoulders of giants, like Jamiu, who have worked tirelessly, at great personal sacrifice, that give us a chance to make further headway on EDI in this century.”

Dr. Busari is a founding investigator with the Equity in Health System (EqHS) Lab, a transdisciplinary team working to address racism, discrimination and social injustice in the health system. He’s also a founding member and co-lead of the lab’s international series, Critical Dialogues for Action (CDFA), a monthly dialogue on EDI that focuses on identifying practical steps to bring about meaningful change.

As an accomplished researcher, author and highly sought-after international speaker, Dr. Busari has led over 175 workshops and authored over 125 peer-reviewed publications and 10 book chapters. He has served as associate editor for the ICENET BlogBMJ Leader and Clinical Medicine & Research and is currently the commissioning editor for BMJ Leader. As a pediatrician, his clinical expertise is in general Pediatrics and infant care, psychosocial and developmental Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

“One of the things that make him stand out as exceptional to me and others who have benefited from his leadership, is the rare way in which he blends his clinical expertise with authenticity, training with a sense of purpose and great patience,” says Ibukun Abejirinde, scientist at Women's College Hospital Institute for Health Systems Solutions and Virtual Care, University of Toronto. “Trainees feel seen, heard and supported under Dr. Busari’s tutelage.”

Dr. Busari’s impact in medical education has been recognized through top teaching awards from six countries, across four continents.