Alumnus Helps Found World Association of Plastic Surgeons of Chinese Descent

David T.W. Chiu’73, professor of plastic surgery and neurosurgery at New York University School of Medicine and a pioneering innovator in peripheral nerve surgery, was one of the co-founders of the World Association for Plastic Surgeons of Chinese Descent at the Third World Congress for Plastic Surgeons of Chinese Descent in Xi’an, China, in October 2012. 

The first congress was held in 2008 in Beijing and the second in 2010 in Taiwan, and Dr. Chiu was also a prime mover and presenter at both. The next congress will be held in 2014 in Hong Kong. The majority of the members, many of whom have made outstanding contributions in microsurgery, tissue engineering, and other areas of plastic surgery research, are of Chinese ancestry and reside all over the globe.

Dr. Chiu, chair of the association’s provisional board of directors, is internationally renowned for his autologous vein nerve conduit, which first proved that nerve gaps can be bridged for nerve repair. A native of China, Dr. Chiu moved with his family first to Hong Kong then to the United States. Cognizant of cultural obstacles faced by individuals of Chinese ancestry in other countries, including longstanding social prejudice in the United States, he credits the success of Chinese doctors to, among other factors, “Confucian principles of learning, with an emphasis on self-enlightenment, teaching, knowledge, and a search for perfection. It is our wish,” he says, “that this association will not only promote the knowledge and know-how of its membership but also, and most importantly, offer an opportunity to share with and learn from plastic surgeons of all nations.” 

Another member of the association, June Wu’96, assistant professor of surgery at P&S, best known for her work in pediatric plastic and craniofacial surgery, trained with Dr. Chiu. She praised her mentor for his surgical and pedagogical skills. “Other synthetic nerve conduits still used today are conceptually derived from his work,” she says, adding: “I wouldn’t be a plastic surgeon today if not for him.” She salutes the new association as “a vibrant international forum for the exchange of ideas.” 

— Peter Wortsman