Dr. Tomas A. Salerno Honored with DeWitt C. Daughtry Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery
At a ceremony before his family, friends, colleagues, and the University of Miami and Miller School of Medicine leadership, Tomas A. Salerno, M.D., professor and Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery, was presented with the DeWitt C. Daughtry Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery.
The ceremony took place January 15 at the Lois Pope LIFE Center. Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Dean of the Miller School of Medicine, said Salerno’s “absolutely extraordinary contribution to his field” made him a worthy choice for chair holder.
“An endowed chair is provided to world-class scholars to support their research and education programs in perpetuity,” said Goldschmidt. “Brilliant physician-researchers, such as Dr. Salerno, receive well-deserved recognition for outstanding achievements in their field.”
The chair was established in honor of its namesake, DeWitt C. Daughtry, M.D., who was one of the leading proponents of locating the state’s first medical school in Miami. A pioneer in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, Daughtry was one of the school’s first four faculty members when it opened in 1952, volunteering as a part-time anatomy and physiology instructor. Throughout his career, he kept his voluntary teaching position at the medical school and made significant contributions to his field.
In 1999, in honor of his family’s generosity and commitment to the department, Daughtry and his wife, Lucille, were honored at the dedication of the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery.
His son, James “J.D.” Daughtry, M.D., said his father would be proud of the hard work, commitment and innovation Salerno has shown over the years.
“We are very happy to have Dr. Salerno here,” Daughtry said. “He is an individual of great character, endurance, ability, and background.”
President Julio Frenk thanked the Daughtry family for their ongoing contributions to the University.
“On behalf of the University of Miami, UHealth and the Miller School of Medicine, I am grateful to the Daughtry family for their generosity and support in making tonight’s dedication possible,” he said. “The endowed chair will provide Dr. Salerno with the flexibility and resources to advance his work, and make a profound impact on the lives of generations of patients.”
Salerno joined the school’s faculty in 1999. A highly regarded cardiac surgeon, he pioneered “beating-heart surgery,” a method of performing heart bypass without placing patients on a heart-lung machine, facilitating quicker patient recovery.
He received his M.D. degree from McGill University in Montreal in 1971, followed by residency and fellowship training in general surgery and cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.
The ceremony was the first for Omaida C. Velazquez, M.D., as Chair of the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery. She lauded Salerno as an “incredibly accomplished” cardiothoracic surgeon, who helped her to adjust to the department when she arrived in 2007.
“It is fitting that my first ceremony as Chair should be to honor Dr. Salerno,” said Velazquez. “Over eight years, I have shared much with him: the care of many patients, academic projects, and the mentoring of residents. It is really an honor for me.”
Salerno has been the editor/co-editor of a combined 500 books, book chapters and peer-reviewed articles. He is a member of 21 editorial boards, and has delivered more than 300 national and international presentations.
He has received numerous accolades in his professional career, including the 2009 Robert Zeppa, M.D. Award for Excellence; the Best Doctors in America Award; Honorary Professor of Cardiac Surgery, University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy; and a proclamation given by the Mayor of Miami-Dade County in 2009 declaring May 7 as Tomas Salerno Day. Just recently, he was inducted into Brazil’s National Academy of Medicine, one of the oldest and most exclusive medical academies in the world.
“Dr. Salerno has continuously sought to improve our institution, and to influence the direction of the University in a positive way,” said Velazquez. “He has demonstrated this through very active involvement. He is a relentless advocate for residents and faculty; he has held numerous leadership positions in the Department of Surgery, at the Miller School and at the University.”
Before receiving a proclamation and chair from President Frenk and Dean Goldschmidt, Salerno thanked those in attendance, and said the focus belonged to the Daughtry family and their continued commitment to the medical school.
“It is an example of generosity without boundaries,” said Salerno, who is also Vice Chair for Faculty Mentoring and Development and Chair of the UM Faculty Senate. “What a legacy, understanding and generosity Dr. Daughtry left behind.”
Speaking to Daughtry’s son, J.D., he added, “I do hope to be able to honor the memory of your father.”