AAGL22 Honorary Chair: Charles E. Miller, MD
AAGL’s esteemed distinction of 2022 Honorary Chair this year goes to Dr. Charles E. Miller for his exemplary service to the AAGL and the outstanding contributions that he has made in the field of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery (MIGS) and reproductive medicine.
Since 1995, Dr. Miller has continuously served the AAGL in numerous roles including AAGL President (2007-2008), FMIGS Board of Directors (2013), JMIG Editorial Board Member (2012-present), and twice Chair of the AAGL Reproductive Surgery/Endometriosis Special Interest Group, the last time being in 2020, along with a myriad of committees. Dr. Miller is currently Program Director of the FMIGS Program at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital (since 2010), and Vice-President/President-elect of the Foundation of the AAGL. In addition, Dr. Miller’s ongoing dedication to developing young MIG surgeons earned him the AAGL’s honorable John F. Steege Mentorship Award in 2018.
Dr. Miller’s passion for research, MIGS and reproductive health is evident in his many publications, presentations, and representation in the field of gynecologic surgery. He is currently Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the Department of Clinical Sciences at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, Illinois, Director of MIGS at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL, Consulting Reproductive Endocrinologist for Advocate Lutheran General Hospital’s Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Transplantation (HPCT) Program, faculty of the Reproductive Medicine and Immunology Fllowship program at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and performs multiple laparoscopic, robotic-assisted and hysteroscopic surgical procedures as well as IVF in his private practice in Metropolitan Chicago.
About Dr. Miller:
CEM: I was born in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Iron Mountain. I love music, especially rock & roll and jazz. When I was younger, I played in rock bands. Perhaps, some of you have heard me play drums during past AAGL global congresses. In my mind, I could have been a contender (LOL).
I am a graduate of the six-year Honor’s Program in Medical Education of Northwestern University. I then performed my residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Parkland Memorial Hospital, where I truly learned at the feet of giants – Dr. Jack Pritchard, considered by many as the “Modern Father of Obstetrics” and author of the Williams Obstetrics textbook, Dr. Noman Gant, former executive director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG).
I learned microsurgery under the auspices of Dr. Celso-Ramón Garcia along with Dr. Luigi Mastroianni, who was the President of the American Fertility Society and the editor of the journal, Fertility and Sterility. Dr. Garcia created the Society of Reproductive Surgery through the ASRM. I remain a founding member.
I started performing operative laparoscopy by working with Dr. Jim Daniel in Nashville, TN, who was one of the early pioneers in the procedure. I then performed training in IVF at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine with Drs. Howard and Georgeanna Jones. They were responsible for the first successful IVF pregnancy in the United States in 1981.
I have a wonderful wife, Laura, three children, Ben, Abbye and Alec, a son-in-law, Andrew, daughter-in-law, Lisa and six grandchildren who I love spending time with. As I have a practice in both MIGS and reproductive medicine, I stay immersed in medicine, virtually 24/7. I love to teach, mentor, perform clinical research and love my time in the operating room. I especially enjoy being the director of the MIGS fellowship program at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital through the AAGL, as well as teaching residents at the institution. I am also teaching faculty in the Reproductive Medicine and Immunology Fellowship program at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, where I am Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology – Department of Clinical Sciences. I am proud to teach the fellows techniques in reproductive surgery. Finally, I still find joy when a patient’s pregnancy test is positive, whether it be post-surgery or through IVF.
For most of my career, I have been an innovator, whether it be techniques in laparoscopic myomectomy, isthmocele repair, publishing a recommendation regarding the treatment of the ovarian endometrioma for patients interested in future fertility, or most recently, performing hysteroscopic evacuation of first trimester miscarriage. By the same token, I am a lifelong learner interested in new procedures/techniques and instrumentation that can positively impact patients. This drive to push the envelope would not have been possible without the education I have obtained through the AAGL.
Why did you decide to go into minimally invasive gynecologic surgery?
CEM: I’ve always been fascinated by reproductive surgery. When I was a medical student, I had an opportunity to work with Dr. Melvin Cohen, an infertility specialist who was one of the earliest adaptors of laparoscopy in the United States.
At the time of my fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, we were in the midst of the era of microsurgery for the treatment of uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian and tubal disease. I chose to do my fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Celso-Ramón Garcia, who along with my friend, Dr. Victor Gomel, was considered one of the greatest microsurgeons of the time.
Immediately after my fellowship however, I realized that surgical techniques were developing in laparoscopic and hysteroscopic surgery that allowed us to have excellent success and much quicker recovery times for our patients. My early “laparoscopic guru” was Dr. Jim Daniel, who introduced me to laser laparoscopy, while my buddy, Dr. Richard Gimpelson, introduced me to operative hysteroscopy. I have never looked back!
What are you passionate about? What hopes do you have for the MIGS profession?
CEM: I am passionate about minimally invasive reproductive surgery. In this case, we combine the tenets of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery with a clear understanding of reproductive needs so that ultimately, opportunity for pregnancy is enhanced.
My hope is that there will be a better understanding by MIGS surgeons to appreciate the impact of their surgeries on reproduction. Too often, overzealousness or on the other hand, incomplete surgery, can negatively impact reproduction.
It is also my hope that MIGS surgeons will be fairly compensated for their efforts when dealing with very complicated surgical cases such as deep infiltrative endometriosis and the very large myomatous uterus.
What do you think of the AAGL?
CEM: First and foremost, the AAGL really has been the center of my post graduate learning. Virtually all of the procedures that I perform, I have learned through the AAGL. I also truly love the camaraderie. My most enduring friendships were spawned at the AAGL.
Is there anything else that you want our members to know about you?
CEM: That I’m a nice guy. I want everyone to feel comfortable. Come up to me and just say hi! I love meeting new people and now that everyone knows my journey, I want to hear their’s.
How do you feel about being selected Honorary Chair?
CEM: When one of my best friends, Dr. Mauricio Abrão (2022 President), called to ask me if I wanted to be this year’s Honorary Chair, outside of being elected president of the AAGL in 2008, and subsequently being chosen for the John F. Steege Mentorship Award in 2018, the Honorary Chair position of the 51st Global Congress of the AAGL, is the greatest honor bestowed upon me in my entire career.
What are you looking forward to at the 2022 Global Congress?
CEM: Given the fact that I missed many of my friends and colleagues the past couple of years due to travel restrictions, I love that we will all be together again in person this year in Colorado. Furthermore, it is always wonderful to watch the next generation of MIGS surgeons take more and more of an active role in our society. In summary, I am looking forward to returning to the true spirt of the AAGL – learn with your colleagues and have some real fun with your friends!
Do you have any advice for new MIGS?
CEM: Work hard. Be a lifelong learner. Always think outside the box. Look at issues that our patients are experiencing and think about how through MIGS you can make that burden easier and results better for them. As experienced as you think you are, don’t ever be afraid to listen to the wisdom of others. And remember, it is never about you as a MIGS surgeon, but rather, it is always about your patient’s journey, who you are fortunate to serve.
With his extensive experience, service to the AAGL and contributions to elevating gynecologic surgery, Dr. Miller is well deserving of this most honorable recognition. Please join us in congratulating our 2022 AAGL Honorary Chair, Dr. Charles E. Miller!