The department was the first department of pediatrics in Lebanon.
The history of the department was featured in AUBMC News (Fall
In the 1920's and before, pediatrics in Lebanon was practiced by internists. As of the year 1932, Dr
Leonard Moore, a member of the Department of Internal Medicine, was asked to develop a pediatric service
at the Medical Center. He concentrated on pediatric medicine, and between 1933 and 1935, he trained Dr Henry Nachman who was the first pediatrician at AUB and the second in Lebanon.
Dr Nachman graduated as MD from AUB in 1931, became a a
pediatrician in 1934, and joined Dr Moore in establishing the
Pediatrics Department. He initiated research in Pediatric Public
Health in 1935 and in 1936 to 1937, he was a Rockefeller fellow in John's Hopkins Baltimore - Maryland. He came back to AUB where he introduced the first incubators for sick infants in the Middle East. In addition, he was a founding member of the Lebanese Pediatric Society and an active member of the Executive Committee of the Eastern Mediterranean Middle East Pediatric Association.
Research was part of the activities of the Department of Pediatrics from its early inception
in 1935 with the establishment of the Pediatric Public Health Research by Dr Nachman.
1935 - 1950
The second pediatrician at AUB was Dr Hassan Idriss, who was
trained by Dr Nachman and Dr Moore in the years 1937 till 1939
and joined the staff as attending physician in 1939. Dr Hassan
Idriss very quickly became the premier pediatrician, not only in
Lebanon, but also in the Middle East. Pediatric patients from all
over the Middle East would come at that time, as they continue
to do so till now, to be treated by pediatricians at AUB and,
particularly, by Dr Idriss. Dr Idriss continued to be the
premier pediatrician in the region until his death in 1979. In
his honor, the Department of Pediatrics dedicated the Pediatric
Library in his name through a generous donation from his family.
In 1951, Dr Hans Zellweger who later came to describe a
syndrome known by his name became Chair of the Department of
Pediatrics. He first trained in obstetrics, surgery and
pathology in Switzerland; then, he joined Dr Albert Schweitzer as
clinical physician in Gabon. He trained in pediatrics under
the supervision of Dr Guido Fanconi in Switzerland. In 1950 - 51, he
became a Rockefeller fellow in the United States. Dr Zellweger
He was a pediatric neurologist and geneticist besides his
interest in in all pediatric subjects. He
introduced subspecialties into the Department of Pediatrics
(including nutrition, nephrology, and hematology/oncology). This
was achieved with other prominent pediatricians like Dr Salim
Firzli. Dr Salim Firzli joined in 1948 and he was the first pediatric
hematologist/oncologist in Lebanon. Dr.
Firzli had graduated in 1947, and after two years of training in
the department, he travelled to London for further training on a
British Council scholarship. In 1956, he obtained a Rockefeller
Foundation scholarship to train in pediatric hematology. In
1957, he established the first clinic in his specialty and in
1960 the first clinic in pediatric oncology. The service of
pediatric hematology-oncology was joined by Dr. Ibrahim Dabbous
in 1965 - present), along with Dr Nabila
Wehbeh (1968 - 1975), and were followed by Dr S. Muwakitt
(1991 - present), who trained under the supervision of Dr S.
Firzli. The service remained very active until the establishment of the Children Cancer Center
in 2002. Dr
Miguel Abboud joined the department as Director of the center (2002 till present)
which is now one of the leading centers in the Middle East for
the treatment of childhood cancer and blood diseases. Along with
Dr Abboud, Dr Dabbous and Dr Muwakkit, in
July 2007, Dr Raya Saab joined and is currently establishing
major basic science research on pediatric solid tumors.
The neurology service which was first started with Dr Hans Zellweger in 1951,
and then, Dr Salam joined in 1953 was later operating with Dr Anwar
Sinno (1969 - 1975), Dr Michel Fayyad (1993 - 2000), Dr Mohammad
Mikati (1995 - present) (on leave for 1 year), Dr Rose-Mary Boustany (2006 - present),
and recently Dr Omar Dabbagh (2008 - present).
As early as 1952, the
Department of Pediatrics was the first in the region to
introduce subspecialty clinical practice and research in the field of pediatrics.
Various new procedures in pediatrics were introduced including cisternography, a procedure that was used to
diagnose hydrocephalus by introducing air into the ventricles,
was first introduced by Dr Zellweger, who taught it to Dr Firzli.
number of staff members also increased during that period and
the department florished. Drs Jamal Harfouche, Maria
Salam, Fouad Hamawi, Salim Firzli, H. Yenni Koumatchian, Henry Nachman,
Hans Zellweger and Hassan Idriss were on staff. They were assisted by Drs Amin Youssef,
Nabih Farhat, Raymond Abu Haidar and Mustapha Ghandour.
In 1957, Drs Barkev Andonian, Quanaa, Samia Hamdan and Nadia Istambuli
were residents training in the department. During the period of 1956 - 1957, residents were taking
care of around 600 inpatient cases per year, hundreds of
newborn and premature babies in the Nursery and around 1500
patients in the Outpatient Department (OPD).
In the picture (56-57):
Standing: Drs A Yusef, N Farhat, R Abu Haydar
Sitting: Drs M Salam, M Ghandour
1960's and 1970's
1960-63, Dr. Calvin Woodruff was chairman of the department. The
department included 14 attending physicians at the time, and
continued to be the leader in subspecialty pediatric practice.
In 1960, Drs Henry Nachman,
Hassan Idriss, Salim Firzli and Barkev Andonian were training five
residents, who were Drs Gloria Bendaly, Ibrahim Yakub, Raja
Asfour, Daad Khoury and Aram Hanissian. In 1960, Dr. Samir
Najjar joined the staff. He was the first pediatric
endocrinologist in the region, and was also the first to start
the basic science research in pediatrics.
In 1961, the resident
physicians were Dr Ibrahim Dabbous, Dr Azmi Jarra and Dr Neron
Balassanian. Dr. Charles Ayoub, and later Dr. Sami Nassif and
Dr. Farid Kutayli, developed the service of pediatric cardiology
as of 1962. Dr M. Ghandour was the first nephrologist to join the department
in 1962, followed by Dr A. Barakat (in 1973) and Dr S. Sanjad
(1973 - 1975 then 1999 - present). In 1961 - 1962, the
department was composed of nine attending physicians: Dr Woodruff
as Chairman, Dr Henry Nachman, Dr Salim Firzli, Dr Hassan
Idriss, Dr Maria Salam, Dr Jamal Harfouche, Dr Samir Najjar and
Dr Nadra Haddad.
In 1962 - 1963, the department included 14
attending physicians. The attendings were Drs Woodruff as
Chairman, Salim Firzli, Henry Nachman, Hassan Idriss, Sami Nassif,
Camil Makhlouf, Nadera Haddad, Maria Salam, Raja Asfour, Robert Jackson, Samir
Najjar, Gloria Bendali, Charles Ayyoub, Mustafa Ghandour and
Paul Haddad. The residents were Dr A Samadi, Aida Khazin, Azmi Jarrah, Balassanian, M. Younoszai and Issam Koublawi.
Genetics was introduced in 1963 by Dr. Vazken Der Kaloustian,
who later established the first unit of human genetics in the
In 1963, Dr. Reignald Lightwood became chairman of the
Department of Pediatrics and was the first to introduce the
Beckman Method for ultramicroanalysis as a clinical and research
tool. Also in 1963, Dr. John Bitar joined the department
as the first pediatric gastroenterologist (1963 - 1986) and was
later joined by Dr R. Zaatar (1992 - present) and Dr N. Yazbeck
(2000 - present). At that time also the department hosted the
Union of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Pediatric Society (UMEMPS).
This congress was headed by Dr Nachman and organized by Dr
Firzli as secretary general.
In 1964, Dr. Samir Najjar became acting
chairman and later chairman of the department for 20 years. The
pediatric residency training was further developed into an
organized, leading program in the Middle East. In the subsequent
years, the department continued to flourish, attracting the best
pediatricians in the country with various subspecialties.
Pediatric infectious diseases specialist, Dr Adnan S. Dajjani
joined in 1964, followed by Dr. Salim Musallam in 1969 who still
serves the department actively till date, then by Dr Ziad Idriss
from 1978 till 1985, Dr Ghassan Dbaibo (1997 - present), and
recently Dr Rima Wakim (2008-present). Neonatology was first introduced by Dr. Aida Khazin in 1969.
She was followed by Dr Nabil Mounla
(1978 - present), Dr May Tabbarah (1981 - 1985), Dr Alia Al Aaraj
(1995), Dr Khaled Yunis (1996 - present), and Dr Lama
In 1970, the department established a fellowship of 3 years in
Social and Preventive Pediatrics, sponsored by the Macey
Foundation Grant. The program was directed by Dr Elias Srouji
and aimed at teaching and providing comprehensive health care
for children and adolescents within their community, with
special emphasis on the underprivileged. The program continued
till 1975, with the active contribution of Dr Majd Ariss as
member and instructor. During that period also, Dr. Sylvie
Mansour contributed to the development of a psychology service
in the department.
The first immunologist in the region was Dr Raif Geha. He joined
the department from 1974 till 1975 and performed the first
bone marrow transplantation in the Middle East.
In the picture (62-63):
ist Row: Drs S Firzli, H Nachman, C Woodruff, H Idriss
2nd Row: Drs S Nassir, C Makhlouf, N Haddad, M Salam, R Asfour,
R Jackson, S Najjar
3rd Row: Drs G Bendaly, C Ayoub, M Ghandour, P Haddad
In the picture (69-70):
Standing: Drs G Roumani, R Geha, N Kronfol, Y Freij
Sitting: Drs R Sulayman, E Guetcherian, A Shamaa, A Ghazzaoui
Late 1970's - 1980's
The period of the 1970's and early 1980's witnessed the
consolidation of the department as the leading department of
pediatrics in general pediatrics, as well as within the
subspecialties; this despite the Lebanese Civil War
that had started in 1975.
Unfortunately, most of the attendings had to leave the country
in the mid to late 1980's due to the worsening of the
situation. At that time, the department continued to
function due to the efforts of only three faculty members who were
able to stay, including Dr Majd Ariss, Dr Salim Firzli and Dr
Salim Musallem. Dr Samir Najjar remained Chairman till 1986. The first allergist
who joined the department was Dr Fuad
Mudawwar (1980 - 1984). In 1980, Dr Guerturd Dudin also joined the department as a research associate and
worked in cytogenetics.
Dr Salim Firzli became Acting Chairman between 1986 and 1992. He
played a key role in maintaining and developing the department
during a most difficult period. Dr Firzli started a hematology/oncology fellowship training program
between 1988 and 1994.
The first pulmonologist was Dr Salman
Mroueh, who joined the department in 1988.
In the picture (86-87):
Standing: Drs S Malaab, S Muwakkit, U Itani, M Shehab, A Kaptan,
C Azar, B Itani, B Atiyyeh
Sitting: Drs R Bishtawi, E Firzli, M Nabulsi, J Hout, H Nubani
Dr Salman Mroueh, became Acting Chairman between 1992 and 1994.
This was a period of recovery from the effects of war. Some
previous members of the department returned and new members were
recruited. By the end of 1994, the department included nine
faculty members and six clinical associates. Research activities
continued with around 11 research articles per year published in
peer reviewed journals.
In 1994, Dr Samir Najjar returned to
AUB as Dean of its Faculty of Medicine. The Medical School and
Medical Center embarked on a major rebuilding process.
1995 - PRESENT
In January 1995,
Dr Mohamad Mikati joined the department
as Professor and Chairman. He was a pediatric neurologist and
the first epileptologist in the country. He established and
directed the first Adult and Pediatric Epilepsy Program and
Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) in Lebanon and the region, for
the evaluation and treatment of epilepsy patients. New subspecialties were introduced
including inborn errors of metabolism (Dr Pascale Karam),
genetics (Dr Chantal Farra), adolescent medicine (Dr Majd Ariss),
pediatric critical care and emergency medicine (Dr Marianne
Majdalani), epilepsy (Dr Mohamad Mikati),
neurogentics (Dr Rose Mary Boustany) and developmental pediatrics (Dr Durriyah Sinno). Other
subspecialties were enhanced with the recruitment of new faculty
members in infectious diseases (Dr Ghassan Dbaibo and Dr Rima
(Dr Khaled Yunis), hematology/oncology (Dr Miguel Abboud and Dr
and cardiology (Dr Fadi Bitar). Subspecialty training was restarted and expanded
to include pediatric neurology fellowship in 1995, pediatric
hematology/oncology in 2001, neonatology fellowship in 2003 and
special training in pediatric cardiology and intensive care in
2006. These have enhanced the teaching program and clinical
activities of the department. In addition to the clinical
training program, during the past 10 years, the Department of
Pediatrics also started a post-doctoral, basic science research
fellowship in infectious diseases, cardiology, developmental
neuroscience and hematology/oncology. Commensurate with the
above, several special centers of excellence and
multidisciplinary programs were developed, including clinical
and basic science research in virtually all pediatric
The Pediatrics Residency Program was remodeled according to the ACGME requirements as of the year 1995. In 2004, the program was
again reorganized according to the new guidelines of the ACGME.
The graduating residents of 2006 - 2007 were the first class to
complete their training after the program was remodeled
according to the new requirements of ACGME.
The first Adult and Pediatric Epilepsy
Program in Lebanon and the region was established in 1995 by Dr.
Mohamad Mikati. The program includes the epilepsy monitoring
unit and delivers a state-of-the-art continuum of care including
diagnostic evaluation, testing, and treatment for patients of
all ages living with epilepsy and seizure disorders. The team is
multidisciplinary including epileptologists, neurosurgeons,
neuroradiologists, neuropsychologists, and nutritionists.
The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)
was established in 1996 by Drs. Mohammad Mikati and Salman
Mroueh to care for children with critical conditions. It
consisted of 4 intensive care and 4 intermediate care pediatric
The Children Heart Center was established
in 1996 by Dr. Fadi Bitar a major center caring for congenital
heart disease in Lebanon, with a multidisciplinary team
providing a full range of services from diagnostic techniques to
interventional therapies and cardiac surgery. The brave heart
fund was established in 2003 to help cover the cost of surgeries
and hospitalization for needy children suffering from CHD,
regardless of their race, sex or religion. The Brave Heart Fund
also campaigns to build awareness about heart disease in
children in order to encourage early detection, which can save
In 1998, Dr. Khalid Yunis started the National Collaborative
Perinatal Neonatal Network (NCPNN), the first research network
of its kind in the Middle East, whose mission is to improve
maternal and child health through the use of perinatal and
neonatal information to promote best practices and effective
policies. Data is collected from most hospitals in Lebanon and
several important regional hospitals.
Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL), directed by Dr. Miguel Abboud,
and affiliated to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, was
established in 2002. The center provides access to state of the
art treatment for children with cancer regardless of their
ability to pay. The center has treated more than 800 patients in
the past 10 years. The multidisciplinary team of dedicated
professionals provides excellent and unique psychosocial
assistance to patients and their families as well as education
In 2003, Dr. Majd Ariss established and
directed the Adolescent Program, the first of its kind in the
Middle East. It provides care for the adolescent population
through a multidisciplinary approach taking into account the
sociocultural and psychological factors affecting the
adolescent’s well-being. The plan now is to construct an
inpatient unit to accommodate these adolescents in a separate
unit that would meet their needs. As a reflection of the above
changes, the name of the department was changed to the
Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, in 2007,
making it the first department in the Middle East to introduce
the specialty of adolescent medicine as part of pediatrics and
to carry that name.
The Department of Pediatrics was the
first to introduce evidence-based medicine (EBM) to medical
students and to the housestaff through the leading efforts of
Dr Mona Nabulsi. The Med IV class
graduating in June 2007 was the first class to receive formal
training in basic EBM skills by Dr Nabulsi during its
pediatric rotation with administration of standardized pre-tests
and post-tests. It was the first department to give residents
prizes based on academic achievements and to sponsor travels for
special training of residents abroad. The graduating residents
have been able to continue their training and subspecialties in
the best medical centers worldwide, like
Harvard, Duke, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and St Jude.
In June 2008, Dr Sami Sanjad was appointed
as Acting chairman of the department.
In 2009, the multidisciplinary Pediatric
and Adolescent Weight Control Program was established in
collaboration with the Departments of Psychiatry and Dietary.
On February 1, 2011, Dr Miguel Abboud was
appointed as Chairman of the Department. A new strategic plan is
being developed for the department along with the 2020 vision of
the medical center, and eventually for establishing a children’s
In 2011, the first
Inborn Errors of Metabolism (IEM) Program was established.
It was the first and only comprehensive program for inherited
metabolic disorders in Lebanon and many countries in the region.
It provides clinical evaluation, metabolic diagnostic
investigations and treatment for babies, children, adolescents
and adults who have inborn errors of metabolism (also known as
inherited metabolic diseases). The program was founded and is
headed by Dr Pascale Karam clinical expert in IEM and the team
includes other pioneer specialists in Lebanon, offering a
state-of-the-art, comprehensive joint care for the IEM patients.
In 2010, Dr Rose-Mary Boustany, world
renown pediatric neurologist and leader in the field of
neurogenetics, established the neurogenetics program to provide
diagnostic and treatment services to patients with neurological,
genetic or neurogenetic disorders and other developmental
disabilities, caring for children with special needs and their
families with a multidisciplinary approach.
In December 2011, the neonate fund was
established and major donors were mothers who have been through
the experience of having their newborns cared for in the NICU.
This fund supports the medical care of babies born prematurely
or sick and need to be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care
Unit (NICU). The NICU was renovated by the end of 2011 to
include 20 beds with state of the art equipment. With highly
qualified physicians and health care teams, under the leadership
of Dr Khalid Yunis, the NICU is now able to provide the best
possible care for the most sick newborns.
Within the comprehensive framework of care,
Dr Lama Charafeddine, neonatologist, is establishing the first
developmental program for follow-up of premature babies and
Dr. Ghassan Dbaibo established an
infectious disease research laboratory and a research core
facility in coordination with basic science and family medicine
departments. The Primary Immune deficiency fund (PID) was
established in 2012 to help cover tests and treatments of
patients with PID.
In 2011, the Sickle cell disease (SCD)
program was initiated by Dr Miguel Abboud to provide
comprehensive care for children and adolescents with Sickle cell
disorders and conduct research aiming to improve outcome and
quality of life in children with this chronic disease. The SCD
fund was established through concerted efforts of donors and is
now assisting in the treatment of many patients with SCD.
Organizing of educational activities
for community physicians:
The department has always been a leader in
organizing international congresses, that included an Update on
Epilepsy Symposium in 1998, the Congress of the Union of Middle
Eastern and Mediterranean Pediatric Societies in 1999, the first
International Symposium in Pediatrics Update conducted in
collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in 2000 and
the Pediatric Cardiology Symposium in 2004 which is being held
annually since then. The National Collaborative Perinatal
Neonatal Network conducts, since 2008, a biannual regional
meeting gathering world renown authorities in neonatal and
perinatal medicine and researchers in the field.
In 2010, the Annual Pediatrics Update
symposium was instated, which is an activity provided and hosted
by the department for all pediatricians in Lebanon and also in
the region. Updates on recent topics in pediatric practice are
given by department members, AUB physicians, and guest speakers.
The activity has been held for the past 4 years with immense
Development and expansion of the department
was made possible through generous donations from individuals,
as well as national and international associations. These
donations helped renovate the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the
Normal Nursery, and establish the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/
Step Down Unit, the Children Cancer Center of Lebanon, and fund
the construction and equipment of the Hassan and Leila Idriss
Pediatric Library, the waiting area, the playroom and conference
rooms. Important donations were provided to help care for
patients with cancer, heart disease, epilepsy, immune
deficiency, sickle cell disease, and premature neonates.
Members of the department continue to be
recognized as world authorities in their subspecialties. Several
are also on the boards and committees of national and
international professional organizations such as Dr Samir Najjar
(International Pediatric Association), Dr Mohamad Mikati
(International League Against Epilepsy and International
Pediatric Association), and Dr Majd Ariss (was elected to chair
the committee for Health Status of Children in Lebanon;
committee that refer to the Ministry of Social Affairs – Higher
Council for Childhood), Dr Rose Mary Boustany (member of the
Society for Neuroscience), Dr Ghassan Dbaibo (Vice-President and
Founding Member of the Pan Arab Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Society), and Dr Salman Mroueh (President of the Lebanese
In 2013, the Department of Pediatrics and
Adolescent Medicine is now recognized as the referral center for
tertiary, subspecialized, multidisciplinary care, for
postgraduate training and for clinical and basic science
In the picture (95-96):
Standing: Drs R Aoun, S Shmeitelli, R Choueiri, P Hayek, N
Baltagi, L Abou Jawdeh, K Yunis, F Bitar, R Abou Jawdeh, M Fayad,
Sitting: Drs H Serhal, Y Darazi, M Ariss, S Mroueh, M Mikati, S
Musallam, M Nabulsi
Chairmen by Chronological Order
Leonard Moore (1930 - 38)
- Dr Henry Nachman (1939 - 50) (Acting Chairman)
- Dr Hans Zellweger (1951 - 59)
- Dr Henry Nachman (1959 - 60) (Acting Chairman)
- Dr Calvin Woodruf (1960 - 63)
- Dr Regnald Lightwood (1964 - 65)
- Dr Henry Nachman (1965 - 66) (Acting Chairman)
- Dr Samir Najjar (1966 - 70)
- Dr Henry Nachman (1970 - 71) (Acting Chairman)
- Dr Samir Najjar (1971 - 86)
- Dr Farid Kutayli (1986) (Acting Chairman)
- Dr Salim Firzli (1986 - 92) (Acting Chairman)
- Dr Salman Mroueh (1992 - 95) (Acting Chairman)
- Dr Mohamad Mikati (1995 - 2008) (On one-year leave of
- Dr Sami Sanjad (2008-2011) (Acting Chairman)
- DR Miguel Abboud (2011-present) (Chairman)