Miller School Celebrates Dr. Akram Tamer’s 50 Years of Inspirational Teaching

Akram Tamer, M.D., came to the University of Miami in 1969 as a resident seeking to advance his knowledge of pediatrics. Through the years, he has cared for young patients and families, conducted significant research and inspired several generations of students, residents and faculty at the Miller School of Medicine through his teaching.

Dr. Gary Danton, left, talks with Dr. Akram Tamer.
Dr. Gary Danton, left, talks with Dr. Akram Tamer.

“We celebrate Akram Tamer’s 50 years of commitment to our school,” said Judy Schaechter, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, chief of service at Holtz Children’s Hospital, and The George E. Batchelor Endowed Chair in Child Health.

Dr. Schaechter and other faculty members paid tribute to Dr. Tamer at a July 10 ceremony at the Mailman Center for Child Development. She noted that Dr. Tamer has been the recipient or runner-up for the George Paff Teaching Awards for teaching excellence a record 22 times. He also received the Miller School’s teaching award, was named “best attending” eight times, and was invited into Omicron Delta Kappa Society, a 100-year-old academic organization.

“Your heart is in education, and we deeply appreciate all you have done for our students,” Dr. Schaechter said.

Born in Syria, Dr. Tamer earned his undergraduate degree in physics, chemistry and biology at the University of Damascus. While a medical student, he was asked to run the university’s neonatal intensive care unit, giving him early experience in pediatrics and neonatology. He came to the U.S. in the mid-1960s where he learned English and received medical training at the University of Buffalo before moving to Miami.

At the Miller School, Dr. Tamer has served as a neonatologist, pediatric hospitalist, educator, and clerkship director. “He trained many of our present faculty when they did their pediatric clerkships,” said Dr. Schaechter. “In the process, he earned the respect and gratitude of his colleagues.”

Barry Gelman, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and associate chair for education, noted that Dr. Tamer has taught more than 10,000 students and residents during his long career, and thanked him for “50 years of inspiration.”

Dr. Akram Tamer, left, with Dr. Karl Meunch.
Dr. Akram Tamer, left, with Dr. Karl Meunch.

Before there was Google and smartphones, Dr. Tamer was the go-to guru for the pediatrics program, said Eduardo Bancalari, M.D., professor of pediatrics, director of neonatology, and chief of newborn service at Jackson Memorial Hospital. “Akram has a medical library in his mind,” he said. “He seems to know the correct diagnostic issues in even the most complex cases.”

Stephen Stricker, M.D., professor of orthopedics, recalled Dr. Tamer asking a thought-provoking question after a lecture. “I promised to investigate, and found no papers on the topic,” he said. “So, we did a study to investigate knee arthritis damage. That article was one of the highlights of my academic career.”

The July 10th celebration preceded the inaugural meeting of the Dr. Akram Tamer Journal Club, which will meet regularly to discuss medical education, pediatrics and hospital care. “We are naming this new journal club in your honor for dedicating your life to caring for children, families, and our students and trainees who will spread your message and the pearls of wisdom you have taught them,” Dr. Schaechter said to Dr. Tamer.

Chief residents Carly Brand, M.D., and Jelte Kelchtermans, M.D., led a journal club discussion of three papers focusing on risk of radiation exposure from the computed tomography (CT) scans in pediatric patients. Introducing the topic, Dr. Tamer said, “One of my missions in life is to reduce the number of CT scans, especially for younger children. Hopefully, we can find biomarkers or other methods to alleviate the risks from this overused testing.”

Tags: Dr. Akram Tanner, Dr. Judy Schaechter, Mailman Center for Child Development