Jonathan DeLong, MD, says he’s always “embraced the future of surgery,” particularly AI, robotics, and technology integration in surgery. Dr. DeLong joined SAGES in 2015 while a resident in the MIS research lab at UC San Diego when he presented two video abstracts demonstrating different applications of indocyanine green (ICG) in endocrine and foregut surgery at the annual SAGES meeting. Dr. DeLong has continued to leverage his expertise and enthusiasm to make a significant impact in the growing field of minimally invasive hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery (MIS-HPB) training under mentors Drs. Brendan Visser and Monica Dua at Stanford University.
He credits several other SAGES members with impactful mentorship in his career path and passion, including Dr. Garth Jacobsen, his residency Program Director at UC San Diego, Dr. Santiago Horgan, who “taught me technical finesse and made connections that led me into surgical innovation and technology,” Dr. Michael Bouvet, who “taught me the fundamentals of research,” Dr. Sonia Ramamoorthy who “taught me to embrace leadership and development,” Dr. Joslin Cheverie for “taking the time to teach the basics of surgical robotics and model humanism in surgery,” and Dr. Bryan Sandler for “encouraging me to get involved in SAGES committees.”
Dr. DeLong adds that he was motivated to join SAGES committees to become more involved in the organization and for the opportunity to meet other forward-thinking surgeons. He currently sits on the AI Task Force Committee, the Technology and Value Assessment Committee and the Robotics Committee, where he hopes to be influential in ushering in a new era of digital surgery.
For Dr. DeLong, these committees are, in part, what makes SAGES special. “I’ve always been interested in how advancements in technology can offer surgeons a better armamentarium to treat surgical diseases. SAGES is a strong agent of change, and its members, by prioritizing innovation, become impactful thought leaders in the field.”
One of his most memorable experiences as a SAGES member stemmed from a SAGES Tweet encouraging inclusivity and diversity by eliminating panels with all male members. DeLong, a member of the Association of Out Surgeons and Allies, is a staunch advocate of diversity, inclusivity, and awareness. SAGES move supporting the same ideals was a moment of realization that surgical organizations could evolve to the modern era and break from the old guard. He has since learned that this online community is also an ideal outlet for his (often terrible) dad jokes.
Looking to the future, Dr. DeLong views his membership in SAGES as an opportunity to engage with a community of driven surgeons committed to advancing the field. With a keen eye towards patient safety and improved efficiency, Dr. DeLong envisions SAGES as a platform for continued innovation and a catalyst for driving progress in surgical practice. When he’s not in the operating room, editing surgical videos, or laughing at his own jokes on Twitter, Dr. DeLong, a Wisconsin native, enjoys more low-tech pursuits, like hiking, snowboarding, and spending time with his husband and three dogs.