The Austrian-Swiss-German (ASG)-Fellowship was erected 1978 by Hans Mau, representing the German, Franz Endler the Austrian, Erwin Morscher the Swiss orthopaedic associations. The first group of Fellows visited the Anglo-American countries in 1979. Since then two German, one Swiss and one Austrian orthopaedic surgeon are visiting orthopaedic departments in UK, Canada and the US for six weeks. In 1984 the ASG-Fellowship gained additional importance by being associated to the „Emerging Leaders Program“ of the American Association of Orthopaedics (AOA). Since 1998 every second year American, Canadian and British orthopaedic surgeons are visiting as well orthopaedic departments of university hospitals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
ASG - Alumni Association
After his own fellowship Prof. Hans-Werner Springorum has founded the ASG-Alumni association in 1983. Since then they meet on a regular basis at the Baden-Baden-, Berlin- and connected to the AAOS-Meeting. The ASG-tie and foulard are examples of his merits as long-standing ASG-Fellow- Secretary. He organized the traditional meetings and delivered his famous witty speeches.
These meetings offer opportunities to build and maintain friendship. The Alumni has grown up to more than 160 members. Since 2008 Prof. Anke Eckardt took over the function as the ASG-Secretary.
A dedicated commission of the national orthopaedic associations selects the candidates. The typical profile of a candidate constitutes of venia legendi, experience as a consultant and reference of the head of the institution. The candidate should not be older than in his/her early forties.
40 years of ASG-Fellowship – in memoriam Hans Mau
1975, when he acted as president of the DGOT Hans Mau - he qualified 54/55 in the Fulbright-Stipendium as one of the first after the long post-war isolation of German orthopedic surgery - presented the idea of an Anglo-American travelling grant for the German-speaking countries Austria, Switzerland and Germany.
On April 1st. 1978 the presidents of the German, Austrian and Swiss Orthopedic Societies Alfred Nikolaus Witt, Hans Hofer, Pièrre Scholder-Hegi and Hans Willenegger initiated an annual research grant to allow for a six weeks visiting tour of British, North American and Canadian Orthopedic Centers. The ASG (Austria-Swiss-Germany)–travelling grant was founded.
This grant was supposed to match the highly esteemed ABC (American-British-Canadian)–Travelling-Fellowship. Co-founders were Franz Endler for the Austrian and Erwin Morscher for the Swiss Orthopedic Society.
The grant aimed at supporting selected young, scientifically engaged orthopedic surgeons to enlarge their scope by visiting outstanding clinics abroad and by building personal relationships to foreign colleagues. Furthermore the fellows should represent the German-speaking orthopedic surgery in the countries visited and present their own scientific projects and results.
1979 the first group started travelling to the Anglo-American countries: Günter Janssen, Udo Rodegerdts, Karl Zweymüller and Alex Staubli.
4 colleagues followed annually, their names appeal like the „who is who“ of the German-speaking orthopedic surgery.
In the beginning, members of the ASG-Panel were Franz Endler/Vienna followed by Hans Hofer/Salzburg and Ulrich Dorn/Salzburg and actually Martin Krismer/Innsbruck for Austria. Switzerland was represented by the acting president of the scientific society, in the beginning Pièrre Scholder-Hegi/Lausanne, Erwin Morscher/Basel, Adam Schreiber/Zürich, and Markus Kuster/St. Gallen. Presently José Romero/Zürich is responsible for the ASG-Fellowship of Switzerland and permanent member of the panel.
Representing the German Orthopedic Society Hans Mau/Tübingen acted for many years as chairman of the panel until he was confered to the emeritus status. He became first honorary member of the ASG-Alumni und was perceived as «father of the fellows». He was followed by Jochen Eulert/Würzburg, who acted as secretary succeeding Hans-Lothar Henkel/Lindenlohe. 1987 his successor became Hans-Werner Springorum/Bad Mergentheim. Jochen Eulert/Würzburg was followed by Joachim Hassenflug/Kiel and Heiko Reichel/Ulm chairing the panel.
The German-speaking ASG-Fellows are elected by the three involved scientific societies and by the panel. The typical profile of a candidate includes habilitaton, a position as senior resident and a recommendation of the clinic-head. Furthermore he/she should not be more than 40 years of age.
In 1984 the fellowship obtained additional international importance by being included in the « Emerging Leadership-Program » of the American Association of Orthopaedics (AOA).
By the time William J. Kane/Chicago was the key driver in linking the fellowships to the AOA.
His successors James Urbaniac, Dean McEwan and especially Stewart Weinstein from Iowa deserve particular thanks for their major efforts to further establish the fellowships in the US.
As a splendid result every second year also American, British and Canadian orthopedic surgeons are visiting university centers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The first US-fellows have been Larry Marsh and Michael Yaszemski who is still very active in favor of the fellowship.
Since then the experienced hospitality could be repaid and a true exchange program was put in place.(pic. 3). The travel of the Anglo-American fellow is organized by Rüdiger Krauspe/Düsseldorf. A custom-made, almost traditional symposium of the fellows in the Saar-region is set up by Christoph Zilkens/Düsseldorf, embedded in the trip through Germany.
Hans-Werner Springorum, Winfried Winkelmann, Niki Böhler and Rudolf Johner travelled together in 1983.
Excited by the experiences made during the travel, he not only took over the role of the panel secretary, in 1984 he also founded the „Kreis der ASG-Fellows“as an Alumni-association. Energetically he kept organizing the meetings and the continuous development of the fellowship. Since then, the fellows gather for the congresses in Baden-Baden and Berlin as well as during the AAOS–Meeting in the US.
Not only thanks to his long tenure as secretary we owe to him more than tie and scarf and witty speaches.
Particular importance gained the establishing ASG-fellow training courses which were set up following the example of the „Instructional Courses“ of the AAOS. They formed an integral part of German Orthopedic surgery congresses. The content was compiled in the „ASG-Kursbücher» and published 1990-1996 by Werner Springorum and Bernd-Dietrich Katthagen as a series of books named „Aktuelle Schwerpunkte der Orthopädie“, Thieme publishers.
From 1999 onward Andreas Imhoff, Jörg Jerosch, and Jürgen Heisel continued publishing following topographical criteria with Steinkopff publishers.
So far all in all 141 German speaking and 29 Anglo-American fellows have been travelling of which 7 were female (Anke Eckardt, Susanne Fuchs, Andrea Meurer, Catharina Chiari, Susan Scherl, Andrea Veljkovic, Susan Bukata).
For their merits Bob Salter, Dean McEwen, Stuart Weinstein, Hans Hofer, Hans Mau, Adam Schreiber, Dietrich Tönnis, Erwin Morscher, Jochen Eulert, Hans-Werner Springorum, Reinhard Graf and Ulrich Dorn have been bestowed honorary membership.
In Baden-Baden the new fellows annually present their research in the public ASG-Fellow session. In the subsequent get-together the Alumni has the opportunity to be presented a report on their travel experience.
For all of us this fellowship was not only a special reward and recognition of our professional engagement by our clinic heads and the scientific society. It was as well a unique experience with memorable insights into the orthopedic surgery of other countries, with lasting impressions of hospitality and frequently also with developing lifelong friendship among the travelling group and with of our hosts. Therefor our heartfully thanks go to the scientific societies for allowing younger colleagues to have such a lifetime experience.
The ASG- (Austria-Switzerland-Germany) Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards of the German-speaking orthopaedic associations.
The photograph shows the ASG-Fellows elected 2018, travelling in 2019 together with former fellows when they first met in Ulm: from left to right Martin Thaler (Innsbruck), Hans-Werner Springorum (Bad Mergentheim), Georgi Wassilew (Berlin), Anke Eckardt (Münchenstein), Heiko Reichel (Ulm), Karlmeinrad Giesinger (St. Gallen) and Boris Holzapfel (Würzburg).
1998 the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) founded an exchange grand, special thanks goes to Stuart L. Weinstein, Iowa. Since then two Americans, one Canadian and one British orthopaedic surgeon visit orthopaedic centres in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The fellows end their excursion by presenting their scientific work on the occasion of the congress meeting in Baden-Baden.
The photograph shows the 3 ASG-Fellows 2018 Neil Sheth (UK), Susan Bukata (US) and Thomas Moores (US) together with Anke Eckardt and Hans-Werner Springorum (right to left) in Baden-Baden.