M. Margaret “Peggy” Knudson, MD, FACS, San Francisco, CA, received the 2021 American College of Surgeons (ACS) Dr. Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award at the virtual Convocation Sunday evening, October 24. Dr. Knudson is professor of surgery, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); adjunct professor, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD; and medical director, Military Health System Strategic Partnership−ACS (MHSSPACS). In addition, Dr. Knudson is Deputy Editor, Journal of the American College of Surgeons and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. The award was developed by the ACS Women in Surgery Committee and recognizes significant contributions to the advancement of women in the field of surgery.
Dr. Knudson completed medical school and general surgery training at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, followed by a fellowship in pediatric surgery at Stanford University, CA. She joined the faculty at UCSF in 1989, working primarily at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), where she was the second woman surgeon working at the trauma center.
In addition to her work at UCSF and SFGH, Dr. Knudson has been on the front lines treating trauma victims of major disasters, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2013 crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco. She has served as visiting surgeon at both Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, and Balad Air Force Hospital, Iraq, while treating soldiers injured on the battlefield. Dr. Knudson has a long and dedicated career of service with the U.S. military that began in 2003 when she taught ultrasound to surgeons who were deployed to battle zones.
She developed and formalized the Senior Visiting Surgeon program, which promoted civilian trauma and vascular surgeons to rotate through the Army Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, and assisted in the care of injured troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, she was the only civilian who spent time downrange at a military hospital in Iraq. With her extensive military experience, dedication to improving the outcomes of active soldiers, and her surgical expertise, Dr. Knudson has served as the Director, MHSSP−ACS, since 2015.
Dr. Knudson has held leadership positions in several professional organizations, including the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST), the Western Trauma Association, and the ACS Committee on Trauma (COT), where she became the first woman Vice-Chair. She has served as the Chair of the Research Committee for the National Trauma Institute and remains on the Board of Directors for the Coalition for National Trauma Research. Dr. Knudson currently holds grants from the Department of Defense to study post-traumatic pulmonary embolism and from the National Institutes of Health for investigating the use of anticoagulants in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Dr. Knudson was honored with the National Safety Council Award by the AAST/COT. She has delivered the Fitts Oration at the AAST annual meeting and the Scudder Oration on Trauma at the ACS. In addition, Dr. Knudson gave the 2019 Paint the Ceiling Lecture at the Western Trauma Conference.
In her nomination letter, the UCSF Muriel Steele Society stated, “The call for nominations describes Dr. Mary Edwards Walker as being ‘unwavering in her commitment to service to her country and surgical profession’ and a woman whose perseverance, excellence, and pioneering behavior paved the way for the women surgeons of today. We can think of no person who embodies that legacy more than our own Dr. M. Margaret ‘Peggy’ Knudson.”
Dr. Knudson’s pioneering career has paved the way for young women in surgery, and her perseverance, dedication, and focus exemplify the spirit of the Dr. Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award. The award is named for the first woman surgeon to be employed by the U.S. Army and the only woman in the 1855 graduating class of Syracuse Medical School, NY. Dr. Walker is the only woman to have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Her extensive commitment to the surgical profession has helped pave the way for the women surgeons of today.