Highlights of 42nd MEMA
|President Dorman handing shield to Halushka in recognition of his leadership in establishing MD-PhD program. Dean Cortas left.
The American University of Beirut and the Medical Chapter of the AUB Alumni Association, in joint sponsorship with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, held the 42nd Middle East Medical Assembly (MEMA) April 23-26.
The three-day meeting included presentations on the latest advances in neurological and blood diseases, cancer, brain function, women’s diseases, hypertension and heart diseases, pediatrics and the impact of modern life on children, pain management, and eye diseases.
One of the highlights of the meeting was a fundraising gala dinner to raise money for scholarships for medical students. Another first this year was the 50th anniversary reunion of the MD class of 1959, held in the form of a scientific session. On the sidelines of the MEMA, an exhibition showcasing the latest medical equipment and treatment options was held.
The MEMA opening ceremony took place on April 23 at 5:30 pm in the Assembly Hall, and was well-attended by members of the medical profession as well as officials. Representing Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora were ministers Khaled Qabbani and Mohammed Jawad Khalifeh, while MP Michel Musa represented Speaker Nabih Berri. Speakers at the opening ceremony included AUB President Peter Dorman, Dr. Georges Aftimos, president of the Lebanese Order of Physicians; Dr. Fuad Jubran from the Cleveland Clinic International Center; MEMA Chair Ibrahim Salti; Dr. Georges Abi-Saad, president of the Medical Alumni Chapter; and Dr. Nadim Cortas, vice president and Raja N. Khuri Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. Director of Information and Public Relations Ibrahim Khoury emceed the event.
Welcoming participants, Dr. Salti lauded MEMA’s influence on the advance of medical knowledge in the Arab world since it was first established in 1951. Since then, “this annual event has become part of AUB’s grand tradition… and played a pioneering role in continuing medical education in the region,” he said. Throughout its development, MEMA has promoted the multidisciplinary approach to medical education, while also focusing more and more on specialties and sub-specialties, Salti added.
Highlighting MEMA’s contributions to medical research, VP Cortas also recalled all the developments that have taken place at AUBMC over the past decade, under his leadership. “The road was bumpy; we had to steer through the thick fog of uncertainty, but we chose not to give up since with new challenges came new opportunities,” he said, noting that integrity and courage were the constant guides. “We kept going and stayed on course by focusing our energy on solutions that brought us closer to our goals.”
As a result of these developments, AUBMC now boasts 120 highly credentialed medical faculty members, a four-fold increase in research output, renovated and upgraded buildings and facilities, partnerships with the Cleveland Clinic, St. Jude, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, a newly-launched MD-PhD program in collaboration with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the new Abuhaidar Neuroscience Institute and the Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute, and accreditation for the medical center, the nursing services and the School of Nursing.
“Over the years, the impact of MEMA has been immeasurable to us, particularly on the growth of research, on faculty exchange and recruitment, on promoting career development and in creating opportunities for our students and residents for postgraduate training,” Cortas said.
Following his speech, Cortas gave a shield of appreciation to Dr. Perry V. Halushka, dean of the Medical Scientists Training Program at MUSC, who was instrumental in helping establish the joint MD-PhD program with AUB.
Representing alumni, Georges Abi-Saad also praised the MEMA organizing committee for producing such a high-caliber meeting. “Amidst the many professional meetings held yearly in Lebanon and in the region, it is a fact that MEMA stands out as the most distinguished annual congress, in terms of its scientific content, its CME credits, the high professional attendance, and the impact it leaves for months, if not for years after the event,” said Abi-Saad, from the Medical Alumni Chapter. “From our standpoint, we, as alumni members, feel that this is the venue where many members of our large family around the globe gather yearly to rekindle old ties in an atmosphere that feels just right.”
For his part, Order President Aftimos lauded AUB’s pioneering role in continuing education and noted that the medical profession could only prosper through knowledge and learning. For this reason, the order is working on establishing laws that would require every physician to take Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits by attending seminars and courses, Aftimos said.
The Cleveland Clinic sponsored the CME program for this year’s MEMA, thus allowing registered attendees to receive American Medical Association-recognized credits. The clinic’s Fuad Jubran highlighted the collaboration between AUB and the Cleveland Clinic which has allowed professional exchange between the two institutions.
“We are especially proud to be hosting such a distinguished group of scientists, scholars, and medical practitioners, many of whom have traveled from Europe and the United States to be part of this important gathering,” said AUB President Peter Dorman. “The number and diversity of issues that will be addressed during this meeting reflect the depth and breadth of scholarship taking place at the AUB Medical Center.”