Alan M. Speir Honored for Remarkable Contributions to Cardiothoracic Surgery Advocacy

STS Distinguished Service Award recognizes commitment to the Society and the specialty

CHICAGO (January 31, 2021) –  Esteemed cardiothoracic surgeon Alan M. Speir, MD, is the recipient of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons 2021 Distinguished Service Award, which was presented today during the Society’s virtual 57th Annual Meeting.

“Dr. Speir’s dedication to the Society and cardiothoracic surgery are impressive, well-recognized, and highly respected,” said 2020-2021 STS President Joseph A. Dearani, MD. “His connections and steadfast leadership in the world of advocacy are thoughtful, measured, and quite simply—extraordinary. Dr. Speir is an inspiration to all of us.” 

An STS member since 1987, Dr. Speir has served the organization in many capacities, including his 3-year tenure as chair of the STS Workforce on Health Policy, Reform, and Advocacy and his current role as chair of the STS Council on Health Policy and Relationships. He also has served as chair of the STS-PAC Board of Advisors, as well as held positions on other governance bodies, including the Program Task Force of the Workforce on Annual Meeting and the Workforce on National Databases. 

For the past 30 years, Dr. Speir has dedicated countless hours learning the ins and outs of legislative and regulatory strategy, as well as health care policy issues. He has passionately defended the advocacy positions of the Society, overseeing tremendous growth in the STS-PAC and becoming a staunch champion for STS and cardiothoracic surgery. 

Dr. Speir has never hesitated to participate in important meetings with senior administration officials such as the secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. He also has volunteered to represent the Society on various advisory committees and technical expert panels convened by government entities and contractors. 

In addition, Dr. Speir is the immediate past chairman of the Virginia Cardiac Services Quality Initiative (VCSQI)—a voluntary consortium working to improve quality of care and contain costs in heart programs within Virginia. His outstanding leadership led to the combining of data from the STS Adult Cardiac Surgery Database and UB-04 financial records from VCSQI, which resulted in the creation of numerous evidence-based protocols and saved approximately $90 million by reducing postoperative mortality and morbidity in cardiac surgery performed in Virginia.

“I was surprised and honored to be named the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Service Award, and I am particularly humbled to have been chosen by Dr. Dearani and the Executive Committee—all individuals for whom I have the utmost admiration and respect,” said Dr. Speir. “Although the award recognizes service rendered to the Society, it is readily understood that each of us derives far more from STS than we could ever contribute to it. This award is truly one of the highlights of my professional career, and I sincerely thank you for this profound recognition.”

A graduate of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Dr. Speir trained in general surgery at The University of Texas Health McGovern Medical School and completed a fellowship in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the Texas Heart Institute, both in Houston. With more than 45 years of experience, he currently holds the positions of medical director of cardiac surgery for the Inova Health System in Falls Church, Virginia, professor of surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University-Inova Campus, senior associate director and director of quality and outcomes at the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, and director of the Inova Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation.

In addition to his clinical career, Dr. Speir is the author or co-author of more than 130 peer-reviewed journal articles and abstracts. He also is the deputy editor of public policy for The Annals of Thoracic Surgery—the official journal of the Society.

The Distinguished Service Award, established in 1969, recognizes individuals who have made significant and far-reaching contributions to STS and the specialty.


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Founded in 1964, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is a not-for-profit organization representing more than 7,500 cardiothoracic surgeons, researchers, and allied health care professionals worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung, and esophagus, as well as other surgical procedures within the chest. The Society’s mission is to advance cardiothoracic surgeons’ delivery of the highest quality patient care through collaboration, education, research, and advocacy.