Nicholas Namias, M.D., Named Robert Zeppa Chair in Division of Trauma

Surrounded by friends, family, and UM and Miller School leadership, Nicholas Namias, M.D., professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Trauma, accepted the Robert Zeppa Endowed Chair in the Division of Trauma at a December 14 ceremony on the Miller School campus.

“As the head of UM/Jackson Medical System’s Ryder Trauma Center, Dr. Namias embodies the commitment to patient care, education, and research that is necessary to lead such a prestigious division of this medical institution,” said Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., who proudly announced that the University of Miami had been instrumental in training 10 of Israel’s 13 top trauma surgeons. “There is no doubt in my mind that UM/Jackson Health System’s Ryder Trauma Center is the premiere trauma center in the United States, and there’s no finer physician I can think of to help us build on that kind of international recognition.”

Echoing Dean Goldschmidt’s observations, UM President Donna E. Shalala recalled her first visit to Ryder Trauma Center when she was secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration. After that first tour of the facility, she remarked that she wanted to carry a message with her at all times that read, “If I’m in an accident, take me to Ryder Trauma Center.”

“Ryder is the best of the best when it comes to trauma care,” President Shalala continued, “and endowments like the Zeppa Chair in the Division of Trauma allow UM to recruit the best of the best, like Dr. Namias. Institutions that reward their best people continue to get better and stronger, and if the Miller School’s rising rankings in national polls are any indication, we’re headed down the right path.”

Accepting the chair, Namias reflected, “If medicine is a noble profession, then trauma is the noblest of the lot, requiring flexibility, snap judgment, and razor-sharp focus—all in the face of chaos. But no job could be nearly as rewarding.”

Thanking his wife Beth and their three children, Nicholas, Chloe and Lily, for their patience and support, Namias also acknowledged his early career in medicine, working alongside Robert Zeppa, M.D., the late chief of surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital, chairman of the Department of Surgery at UM and chief of trauma, for whom the chair is named. “He was a giant to me,” Namias said, “dedicated to answering questions and expanding minds. Picking up that legacy, I hope to expand trauma education for faculty and staff, increase trauma resources across UHealth, and expand community outreach through education programs in trauma.”

Noting that Namias had trained under Dr. Zeppa, or “Zepp,” as he was affectionately known, Alan S. Livingstone, M.D., professor and chairman of the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery and chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, said that the Ryder Trauma Center had come full circle with Namias assuming the Zeppa Chair.

“Dr. Robert Zeppa died unexpectedly and too soon some 15 years ago,” Livingstone said. “At that time, his colleagues and surgeons he mentored set out to establish an endowed chair in Zepp’s memory. More than 80 residents and other donors managed to raise more than $500,000 for this worthy cause. Because of their dedication and support, we’re taking trauma surgery to a whole new level and putting UM/Jackson on the global map—where it rightly belongs.”

Three of those donors, Albert Vara, Mariano “Harry” Macias, and Enrique Lopez, attended the ceremony, offering their full support of Namias and his vision to lead the Division of Trauma in a way that would have made Dr. Zeppa proud.

“I hope to do Dr. Zeppa’s memory justice,” Namias said. “He left big shoes to fill but also left an excellent example and legacy.”

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