The Akwari Society

In September 2022, Duke Surgery celebrated the establishment of a new society honoring the legacy of Dr. Onyekwere Emmanuel Akwari. The society’s foundation is built upon placing humanity at the center of our surgical practice. 

The Society is an honorific, yet accessible organization, action focused, and devoted to holistic excellence in surgery. It holds a foundational belief that excellence in surgery requires, in addition to technical prowess and subject matter expertise, competency in addressing the humanistic needs of patients, colleagues, and their communities. The Society will provide an intellectual outlet for thoughts, advancing humanistic principles, and deeds, applied to surgical practice, with the additional goal of aiding the community. 

Inaugural Membership Class

The Akwari Society is pleased to announce the inaugural membership class, comprised of 34 individuals who embody the values and principles that the Society was founded on.


To honor and propagate humanism in the practice of surgery 


Human Values as Core Surgical Values


Compassion, Empathy, Integrity, Excellence, Professionalism, Humility, Respect, Service


The Society is committed to lifelong education, learning, and service, and the production and dissemination of knowledge in the humanities relevant to surgical practice and to medicine and humanitarianism, more broadly. Members are committed to contributing to the application of knowledge into action that aims to improve humanistic principles in surgery.

Graphic illustration of Dr. Onye Akwari in surgical scrubs

About Dr. Onye Akwari

Onyekwere E. Akwari, MD, was the first African-American surgeon on the faculty of Duke University. He was a compassionate physician, a dedicated mentor, and a champion for women and underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in the field of medicine.

Close up of a women writing in a notebook

Essay Contest

The annual Akwari Society Essay Contest presents an opportunity for learners of all years and programs in the Duke Department of Surgery to showcase what the values of humanism in the practice of surgery mean to them.

Learn more about the inaugural 2023 Essay Contest and read the first-place winning entry, submitted by General Surgery Resident Dr. Kevin Ig-Izevbekhai.