Retired Radiologist Robert F. Feltman’s Teaching Legacy Honored at Luncheon

When Robert F. Feltman, M.D., joined the Department of Radiology at UM’s medical school in 1960, he so enjoyed teaching gastrointestinal fellows to read and make diagnoses from X-rays that, for decades, he spent his own time conducting bi-weekly training conferences on campus. Fifty-three years later, Feltman and his family returned to the Miller School for a luncheon honoring his work and lifetime commitment to teaching, a legacy carried on by The Dr. Robert F. Feltman Gastroenterology Education Endowment Fund.

“The Feltman Fund is a critical lifeline in the teaching process, supporting GI fellows who travel to conferences to present their work in this field, and exemplifies the commitment that Robert Feltman had and continues to have in teaching the next generation of physicians,” Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., said in welcoming Feltman, his wife Sissi, several of their children, grandchildren and other family members to the October 21 luncheon held in the Seminar Center at University of Miami Hospital.

The hospital is a place Feltman knows well. In 1967, the World War II veteran and graduate of George Washington Medical School became Chair of Radiology at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, which would become UM’s flagship hospital in 2007 – the same year Feltman’s eight children established the education fund for his 80th birthday.

Generously supported by the Feltman family and their friends, the fund has since enabled GI fellows to share their often-groundbreaking work at conferences across the country. Addressing the gathering, Maria Abreu, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, and Amar R. Deshpande, M.D., assistant professor of medicine who heads the GI Fellowship Program, said that travel is no small thing.

“In our current times and economy, it’s very difficult to do something simple, which is to support our fellows and trainees to travel to these meetings to present their work, to move the field forward and to contribute broadly to the medical sciences,” said Abreu, who also lauded Feltman for having the “remarkable foresight” to encourage training across disciplines. “To that end, this fund has allowed us to send about 15 fellows, residents or medical students to conferences around the country.”

Deshpande, who as a GI fellow himself benefitted from Feltman’s Friday X-ray conferences, said conference travel has had a tremendous impact on increasing the national profile of the program, which attracts about 400 applications for five or six fellowship slots every year. To demonstrate that point, he invited two GI fellows, Andres Yarur, M.D., and Oriana Damas, M.D., and Internal Medicine resident Jodie A. Barkin, M.D., to discuss the research on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and pseudopolyps they have presented at national conferences to much acclaim. In fact, Yarur has twice won the American College of Gastroenterology’s IBD Research Award.

Though not exactly normal lunchtime fare, the breadth, scope and significance of their presentations overwhelmed Feltman, who retired in 1996 but continued teaching on a voluntary basis until a few years ago. Taking the podium, he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to continue making a difference.

“I want to thank all of you for honoring Sissi and me today,” he said. “We are very happy that we are able to contribute towards the training of the next generation of GI physicians and hope that the fund will continue to help in that effort for many years to come.”

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