This week, the gynecologic cancer community lost an extraordinary figure, a man who served as a “mentor of mentors,” Professor Ali Ayhan.

Ali Ayhan, MD, served as Professor of Gynecologic Oncology, Baskent University School of Medicine, the Chief and Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Baskent Ankara University Hospitals, and as the Vice Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Medical School of Baskent University. Dr. Ayhan graduated medical school from the University of Istanbul, School of Medicine, Istanbul, Turkey and then went on to do his residency training at Hacettepe University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey. He then conducted his fellowship at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY and later did a fellowship in microsurgery within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Dr. Ayhan’s clinical practice was focused on the radical surgical treatment of gynecological malignancies, especially in ovarian neoplasms; cancer screening; detection and treatment of preinvasive lesions, and colposcopy. He developed several novel approaches for surgical treatment of gynecological diseases. His basic research focused on studying the pathophysiology and molecular pathobiology of gynecological neoplasms, defining the molecular pathways of invasion in female genital tract tumors and to devise novel treatment approaches for primary and recurrent gynecological cancers.

Dr. Ayhan worked very hard for the development of gynecological oncology as a subspecialty in Turkey. He became the leader of gynecologic oncology in Turkey by educating most of the chairmen of the Turkish institutes in his high-volume center. He organized the biennial meetings of the Turkish Society of Gynecologic Oncology since 1988 and more than 100 regional meetings within Turkey to improve the level of training in each corner of his country.

Throughout his career, Dr. Ahyan was an extremely active and enthusiastic teacher; he has influenced medical students, gynecologic oncology trainees and practicing gynecologists

through his operations, lectures, books, discussions and individual mentorship. Dr. Ayhan authored over 250 peer-reviewed papers indexed in SCI with a h-index of 36 and presented over 1,000 national and international lectures since 1979. He is the creator, coordinator and one of the editors of “ESGO Textbook of Gynaecological Oncology” for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd-current- editions.

He initiated and served as the the Editor of Turkish Journal of Gynecologic Oncology and served on the reviewer boards of many respected academic journals including Gynecologic Oncology, International Journal of Gynecological Cancer and European Journal of Gynaecological Oncology. Dr. Ayhan was a member of numerous national and international prestigious societies and was the founding president of the Middle Eastern Mediterranean Association of Gynecologic Oncology (MEMAGO).

Dr. Ayhan received several prestigious awards such as the “Scientist of 2009 Award” by the Society of Clinicians (Social Branch of Turkish Mediterranean Region Society) in 2010, the “Oncology Service Award” in 2011 by Turkish Ministry of Health and Welfare, the “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2013 by The Foundation of Health Volunteers in Turkey, and “A Lifelong Dedication to Gynecologic Oncology Award” in 2013 by Lebanese GOG. He also received İGCS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 and ESGO Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.

In 2023, Dr. Ayhan was instrumental in bringing the IGCS and Nezhat Family Foundation Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery Training Program to Baskent University Hospital in Ankara, Turkey.

Ali Ayhan was an exceptional and unique figure in gynecologic oncology. He transformed the landscape of gynecologic cancer surgery in the Middle East and gave this discipline an important place in our part of the world. He was a passionate advocate for teaching and mentoring. His only purpose was to disseminate knowledge with a moto “learn, teach and share”.

Farewell friend, you will be missed but will stay in our minds and hearts.

David Atallah, MD
IGCS Board Member

Keiichi Fujiwara, MD, PhD
IGCS President