March 2022 - Message from Gail Darling, CATS President

Spring is arriving and we are starting to see a bit of green. COVID restrictions are lifting but undoubtedly we will see increasing numbers in our hospitals again. It has been an incredible burden on our health care system, on our patients who have been waiting for surgery and on ourselves as we have been isolated from family and friends. We know that rates of mental illness have gone up over the pandemic and I think this should remind us of the importance of human connection. We are social beings. We need each other. But our patients need us too. Even though virtual visits are incredibly efficient, we, and our patients, lose out on the human connection. Trust is so important in surgery. Despite the long explanation of risks and benefits of surgery, the patient must put their trust in us. Trust is built on human connection.

Wishing you all a wonderful spring.


February 2022 - Message from Gail Darling, CATS President

We are approaching the end of the COVID pandemic and moving to the “endemic” phase. It has been a long journey for all of us. Humans are social beings and the isolation from friends and family has been very hard on us. It is through contact with others that we are renewed and reinvigorated. But it is not just the lack of contact with our friends and families that has hurt us. Our isolation from colleagues has also taken a toll but I don’t think this is well recognized. When you think about how much time we spend at work, we actually spend as much or more time with colleagues than our families. Perhaps a sad statement but one that reflects reality for many of us. It is by social interactions that we build relationships and trust: the ability to look someone in the eye, see their facial expression, look at their body language, shake their hand. This is not possible over ZOOM. High functioning teams like thoracic surgery depend on everyone on the team trusting one another. I think that virtual meetings have enabled us to carry on the business of thoracic surgery and undoubtedly will continue to have a place in our lives, but as much as permitted, I encourage you all to find some time to meet face to face with colleagues, share a coffee, discuss a difficult case, or just check in.

Looking forward to spring.

Gail Darling, CATS President

January 2022 - Message from Gail Darling, CATS President
Gail Darling, President

Welcome to another year, another COVID wave.

We will get through this. In the meantime, we will continue to deliver the best care to our patients to the best of our abilities given the restrictions placed upon us. Making a clinical decision is fairly easy for us as this is what we are trained to do. More challenging is managing the anxiety and uncertainty that affects us all but particularly our patients who are waiting for care. The sustained stress on our healthcare system is unprecedented. As surgeons, we are “doers”, head down, one foot in front of the other, do what needs to be done. This approach has served us well during our training and our careers. Indeed it continues to serve us well as we deal with this pandemic.

I hope you will all recognize the stress you are experiencing and the stress experienced by those you work with everyday. Cut yourself some slack, take some “me “ time. We all need this, and can learn from our younger colleagues and students.

CATS is thriving. We have a growing membership, with lots of members with energy and new ideas. They are participating in our committees and bringing a great deal to the table. Our EDI task force is now formally a committee as we recognize the importance of their leadership on this file going forward. Our education, research, best practice, quality and database committees are moving forward with new initiatives and collaboration. I think you will see from the newsletter there is lots going on with lots of educational opportunities for everyone.

The key to a successful and thriving association is participation by our members and a steady hand at the helm and for that I am ever grateful to Jenn Artz who keeps us all on track and moving forward.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy new year. Reach out to me anytime at

Gail Darling, CATS President

December 2018 - Message from Andrew Seely, CATS President

Dear CATS Members,

In looking to 2019, I would like to revisit our vision for CATS, and highlight strategic focus over the next couple of years. CATS recently went through a visioning exercise in 2016 and those statements still hold true today. Our vision is to “enable Canadian Thoracic Surgeons to provide the highest level of care to every patient, every time”. To help achieve this, our mission is to form a “collaborative network that promotes excellence in patient centered care, fosters innovation, and enhances quality through education, research and advocacy”. I am very excited to work with you all to pursue these aims, and along with the outstanding CATS Executive, I am keen to build on the solid foundations laid by my predecessors and focus in three main areas: (1) promote CATS as a learning network through shared excellence and experience, (2) further augment involvement of the CATS membership in our activities, and (3) empower leadership among committee chairs.

To promote our network, we have embarked on the CATS National Quality Improvement Database (CATS DB) Project, which is made possible by the remarkably collegial and collaborative nature of CATS members. This requires the coordination of local work across the national arena, and it is a fabulous opportunity for CATS members to learn from each other, as we collectively make a significant impact on patient care. CATS is also working to improve its communications to support this project and further develop the network connecting Canadian thoracic surgeons, while reaching out to our partners internationally. This national data-driven learning network will help us ensure that we are providing the optimal care “to every patient, every time”.

Involvement in CATS can be rewarding personally and professionally. To further augment the involvement of the CATS membership, we are growing our committees and including residents to allow for a variety of perspectives to be present. We are seeking new opportunities to engage the membership, which currently include feedback to the Best Practice Committee on recommendations, comments / endorsements on local positive deviance seminars as part of the CATS DB project, and ways to make the Annual Conference more interactive (e.g., Difficult Case Debates). There are more initiatives on their way, and we encourage you to let us know what you would like to see.

To empower the committee leadership, committee chairs are working to develop their committees in terms of membership and projects. Committees are supported and encouraged to take on new initiatives, and we are looking forward to seeing the innovative ways that we will be sharing research and supporting education in the near future.

I am also excited to continue the great work of CATS leadership of prior years. The legacy of leadership in this organization is inspiring and humbling. Just to name a few recent examples, our organization remains a strong incorporated entity with outstanding governance and financial stability, after Richard Inculet pursued incorporation in 2014. Drew Bethune further strengthened governance, and oversaw the visioning exercise in 2016, very much relevant today as discussed. Sean Grondin has further enhanced our international relationships, and I am excited about further strengthening our international association ties, particularly with STS, in 2019.

As always, I encourage you to reach out to myself or and of the CATS leadership and to get involved in CATS, including Gail Darling (Vice-President), John Dickie (Secretary/Treasurer). We are fortunate to be part of such a collegial and dynamic organization. I am really looking forward to working with each one of you over the coming two years.

Warm regards,


Andrew JE Seely
CATS President 2018-2021

August 2018 - Message from Sean Grondin, CATS President

Sean GrodinDear Colleagues,

I would like to take this opportunity to share information about the exciting program that has been put together by the CATS Annual Meeting Program Committee led by James Villeneuve. This year’s meeting will be held at the Delta Hotel and St. John’s Conference Centre (Sept. 14-16, 2018). I would like to acknowledge and thank Paul Gardiner and the local arrangements team for their tremendous assistance. Registration for the meeting and hotel accommodation booking will be available in the spring on the CSF site. The meeting in St John’s will mark our 20th Anniversary as an Association and several celebratory events are planned. A brief summary of the program highlights is outlined below.

Of special note are the two outstanding invited speakers. Mr. Joel Dunning from the James Cook University Hospital (Dr. FG Pearson Lecturer) has pioneered minimally invasive surgical techniques and the development of evidence-based cardiothoracic surgery in the United Kingdom. We are also joined by Dr. Donald Low from The Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle WA as the CATS President Visiting Lecturer. Don is a world-renowned foregut surgeon with special interest in enhanced recovery after surgery.

Thursday Sept 13 – For the morning program, Dr Laura Donahoe has developed the CATS Postgraduate course that will review the Top 10 topics in thoracic surgery with a superb teaching faculty assembled. In the afternoon, the CATS Research meeting and the CATS Best Practices committees will be in session. The always popular CATS Cocktail party will be at the Merchant Tavern this year.

Friday Sept 14 – On Friday, the program will begin with a detailed discussion on Enhanced Recovery after Surgery, chaired by Dr. Ferri and featuring an expert panel of discussants. Later in the morning, residents will have the opportunity to meet with Drs. Low and Dunning at the “Brunch with the Professors” meeting. Later, I will present the Presidential address followed by poster presentations over lunch. In the afternoon, the CATS/CAGS joint symposium on foregut disease will occur. We will follow and close the day with the CATS Lung symposia on the screening, management, and follow-up of nodules and early-stage cancers. The 20th anniversary CATS gala dinner will be held at the historic Rooms restaurant on Friday evening. To ensure your seat at this event, please purchase your tickets when registering for the CATS meeting on the CSF site.

Saturday Sept 15 – The Saturday morning begins with the Royal College Gallie lecture, which is being sponsored by CATS this year. We are honored to have as our invited speaker Dr. Doug Mathisen of Harvard University who will be speaking on Stewardship in Surgery. The CATS esophageal symposium will follow, featuring an expert panel on a variety of topics. We will then hear the Dr. FG Pearson lecture presented by Mr. Joel Dunning. Joel will share his experience as a pioneer in minimally invasive surgical techniques. The morning session concludes with the scientific research paper presentations. In the afternoon, the inaugural conjoint STS-CATS symposium will occur. This event promises to be an entertaining and informative session of difficult case presentations and discussions.

As you can see, James and his team have put together a fabulous program agenda. A detailed review of these and other planned activities will be available in March at the CSF website ( I am looking forward to seeing you in St. John’s and marking our 20th anniversary.


Sean Grondin
CATS President 2016-2018