Trustees Meeting 2018

The annual AO Trustees Meeting 2018 took place in Basel, Switzerland from July 12-14

01 August 2018

AO Trustees Meeting 2018

Assembled trustees at the Wenkenhof Villa, AO Trustees Meeting 2018 in Basel (CH)

At the AO Trustees Meeting, the outgoing President, Nikolaus Renner set the mood for the event with his opening address where he explored what Basel, his hometown, means to him and how it played a key role in the AO's history. Renner shared memories of his time as a medical student in Basel, and photos of him and Martin Allgöwer at the University of Basel. Continuing this theme of links with the past, Renner explored the connections between Basel and Miami (where the previous year's Trustees Meeting was held). Central to this continuity are the many buildings in both cities designed by renowned architects Herzog and De Meuron, including the Roche tower, and ARTBasel also has a Miami edition. 

Basel and the AO

Renner then introduced Emmanuel Gautier, a local AO Trustee, who took the audience on a journey through Basel and its place in Swiss history. One striking element of his talk was the fact that, for such a geographically small territory, Basel has had a far-reaching impact on Swiss, and European, history.

The AO as an Orchestra?

The keynote speaker, Grammy-winning conductor Christian Gansch then took the stage. Using music as a metaphor, he explored how orchestras, and companies, work. He spoke passionately about the power of music to create and define, to impact and describe. Each individual section has its role, and each is equally important. The smallest detail, the triangle, can bring everything together—or destroy it all. Respect and appreciation for all roles, whether they are perceived organizationally as tiny or large, is crucial, he explained.  

Gansch stressed that clear input and direction is needed but in seeking to control every moment you risk destroying creativity. He highlighted the importance of knowing when to take a step back: you see the flow is there, people are working well and productively together, that's when as a manager you must have a lighter touch. Creativity is often seen as an anarchic process, he said. But even that "anarchy" is built on clear structure. 

In conclusion, he left us with the understanding that: We are many voices, but we are one sound.
The new mission “Promoting excellence in patient care and treatment outcomes in trauma and musculoskeletal disorders”, was approved by the Trustees at the Annual Meeting.

Maurice E Müller at 100

Past President and Honorary Member Joseph Schatzker then took the stage, with a presentation about Maurice E Müller and his contribution to trauma surgery and to the AO. During a coffee break, Trustees were able to get signed printed copies of the book about Müller that Joseph Schatzker has published with support from the AO Strategy Fund as part of events marking the AO's 60 years anniversary. The talk explored Müller's genius as a surgeon, scientist, and medical entrepreneur—and looked at the legacy he left, which continues to impact patients worldwide. The book Maurice Edmond Müller—In His Own Words is available for free download.

Partnership, Initiative Updates

The second half of the morning session kicked off with a presentation from the AO's industrial partner Johnson & Johnson. The partnership update was presented by Ciro Roemer, Company Group Chairman, DePuy Synthes and Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices North America, whose engaging talk covered the changing health care needs across the globe and challenges stakeholders face today.  

Roemer looked at the need to not only innovate, but to innovate and disrupt—much in the spirit of the AO's original founders. The strength of the partnership was a central element in his speech, as he explored the synergies that exist organically between the two organizations. He also highlighted the AO's global education initiatives and its unique ability to foster dialogue between stakeholders. New initiatives that were mentioned in his talk include: AO Recon, Faculty Education Program Pilots, and the AO Soft Tissue Management Course—the first major standalone course of its kind, developed in collaboration with Ethicon. 

Assessing AO Achievements 2016-2018

The Trustees took care of governance matters (finances, exoneration of the AOFB, appointment of auditors,) during their Annual Meeting in the afternoon of day one. The Annual Meeting began with the Trustees standing to honor the memory of their colleagues who have passed away in the past 12 months.

The AO President then gave an overview of the AO's achievements and progress made in ongoing projects 2016-2018, that covered the review of the vision and mission, the integration of AORecon and Neuro initiatives into the CA and AOF structure, the launch of the Soft Tissue Initiative (Ethicon), the repositioning of the Davos Courses and the implementation of the community development review.

The AO's New Mission

In discussing the reasons for moving from the current vision and mission statements to a single, new, mission, Renner stressed the changes seen over the last five to seven years in the AO and the broader health care environment. As health care needs change and new technologies offer increased scope—it is only fitting that we respond. We have seen this in action at the AO with Neuro, Recon, and the Soft Tissue initiative (first course to be held in September)—and we also see it with AO Invest and the AO Strategy Fund.

The new mission "Promoting excellence in patient care and treatment outcomes in trauma and musculoskeletal disorders", was approved by the Trustees at the Annual Meeting. Renner stressed that this is something we achieve through improving performance through education, optimizing clinical treatment pathways and guidelines, and promoting innovation through research and development.


Innovation, Simulation, and MyAO 

CEO and AOFB Vice Chair Rolf Jeker's report put innovation in the spotlight, with a focus on simulation in education, AO-wide process alignment, and MyAO—as a means of ensuring the AO remains relevant and user-friendly in the digital age. He stressed that MyAO will function as an online platform that will make it even easier for surgeons to network and will also offer opportunities for collaboration. 

Pierre J Hoffmeyer, Emeritus Professor at the University of Geneva, who chairs the Ethics and Compliance Committee, gave a thoughtful presentation looking at the ethics and impact of the life-and-death decisions surgeons make daily, and at the place ethics has in how we work.


The Assembly of Trustees approved the minutes of the last Annual Meeting (July 7, 2017) and a number of elections took place. Robert McGuire was elected President; Florian Gebhard: President Elect; Tim Pohlemann: AOFB MedTech Development Expert; Ernst Mäder: AOFB Finance Expert, Mark Markel: AOFB VET Expert, and John Wilber was elected AOFB Trauma Expert.

The day closed with a Gala Dinner at Wenkenhof for the Presidential Handover ceremony and formal recognition for outgoing trustees.

Looking to the Future

On day two the trustees spent the morning in AOTrauma, AOSpine, AOCMF, and AOVET breakout sessions that saw wide-ranging discussion of the and stimulating blue-sky thinking 'thought experiments'. 

AO Alliance took the trustees through the morning into lunch, with a stimulating discussion of the future direction that AO's global work will take—particularly what it offers in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs), and local engagement in LMICs that will promote excellence in patient care.


After lunch, AO Latin America gave Trustees an overview of their achievements over the past 20 years and further development plans.

Day two ended with the final presidential address by Renner, and a scene-setting presentation by the new AO President Robert McGuire that outlined his vision for the AO over the next two years. Centerpieces of this will include further work on the AORecon initiative, an ambitious new approach to education and training in LMICs aligned with AO Alliance, and the enhanced role of simulation in the education process. 

The next Trustees Meeting will be held in Dublin, June 12-15, 2019.

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