Three UM Medical Alumni Receive Prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award

Honoring clinical excellence, research expertise and public service among its graduates, the Miller School of Medicine Medical Alumni Association recently bestowed one of its highest honors — the Distinguished Alumni Award — on three outstanding physicians: Maria T. Abreu, M.D., Class of 1990; Eduardo de Marchena, M.D., Class of 1980; and Fred F. Telischi, M.D., Class of 1985.

More than 100 alumni, physicians, staff, family and friends attended the Distinguished Alumni Award reception on April 18 at the Coral Gables Woman’s Club.

Jeffrey Block, M.D., Class of ’82 and president of the Medical Alumni Association, opened the program by emphasizing the important role distinguished alumni play in shaping the physicians and researchers of tomorrow.

“Tonight, we are honoring three remarkable award recipients, who exemplify the passion fostered at the Miller School,” said Block. “It is our hope that students will look upon the careers of these inductees, become inspired and see them as role models for their own futures.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award has been presented 43 times since its inception in 1996. Recipients must be at least 10 years post-graduation and have achieved community or public service prominence, and national recognition as a result of their medical career, or as a result of an associated career achievement.

“Alumni from the Miller School make up a huge pool of talent of which we should all be proud,” said Alberto Mitrani, M.D., Class of ’84, the associate professor of clinical medicine who heads the award selection committee. “The committee is reminded of this every time we review candidates for these awards.”

Mitrani acknowledged the four past Distinguished Alumni Award winners who were in attendance: Norman Kenyon, M.D., Class of ’56, Barry Materson, M.D., Class of ’62, Jamie Barkin, M.D., Class of ’70, and Aileen Marty, M.D., Class of ’82.

Steven Falcone, M.D., Class of ’87, and the Executive Dean for Clinical Affairs, said recipients are honored for clinical excellence, research expertise and public service, all elements that are cornerstones of the Miller School teaching mission.

“While a tremendous personal achievement for the honorees, their success also elevates the reputation of the medical school. We are constantly striving to be an institution worthy of their many accomplishments,” said Falcone, who is also Chief Executive of the UHealth Clinical Practice, and professor of radiology, neurological surgery and ophthalmology.

The first award of the evening was presented to Maria T. Abreu, M.D., who is recognized as a leader in her field of gastroenterology, and considered among the most recognized experts in the clinical care and research of inflammatory bowel disease.

She is currently professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, the Martin H. Kalser Chair in Gastroenterology, and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at the Miller School. She is also the Director of the Elaine and Sydney Sussman Family Crohn’s and Colitis Clinic at UHealth and the immediate past president of the Florida Gastroenterology Society.

After receiving her undergraduate and medical degrees from UM, Abreu’s career took her away from Miami for 18 years, but she never lost the desire to return to her alma mater. When the opportunity arose to return as Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, Abreu says she didn’t hesitate. She said of the many awards she has received, the Distinguished Alumni Award is particularly special to her.

“I am really very humbled by the fact that you have chosen me,” she said. “And I am grateful to be back home.”

Eduardo de Marchena, M.D., was honored for his many contributions as an internationally recognized cardiologist. From 1986 to 1994, De Marchena served as the medical director of the Cardiac Transplant Service at UM/JMH, where patient survival and outcomes were comparable to the best transplant centers in the world. He was also the director of interventional cardiology, leading a program that has produced some of the finest interventional cardiologists in practice today.

Currently, de Marchena is continuing pioneering work in the clinical research efforts of trans-catheter cardiac valve implantation. He is professor of medicine and surgery, Associate Dean for International Medicine, and chairman of the University of Miami Medical Group, the physician practice at the University of Miami.

De Marchena joked that he has spent his entire adult life at UM, arriving in 1972 as an undergraduate student, completing medical school and then joining the UM faculty. He said it was an honor to accept his award, surrounded by so many friends, former teachers, colleagues and students, all of whom have shared in his accomplishments and inspired him in his journey.

“I want to thank everyone here,” he said. “I really think the University of Miami has given me fantastic opportunities, a tremendous capacity to make wonderful friends, and to explore important scientific initiatives and patient care.”

Fred F. Telischi, M.D., was honored for his work as an internationally recognized expert in treating disorders related to the ear, hearing loss and cranial base tumors. Under his leadership, the Barton G. Kids Hear Now Cochlear Implant Family Resource Center was established with a $5 million grant from The Barton G. Kids Hear Now Foundation. The center has helped countless families as they transition their children into a hearing world full of sound and possibility.

He is currently professor of otolaryngology, neurological surgery and biomedical engineering, the James R. Chandler Chair in Otolaryngology and Chairman of Otolaryngology.

Telischi said he was honored to be recognized by his peers, and to be part of the small group of physicians who have spent their entire career at UM. The Class of ’85 recently marked its 30th reunion and celebrated the fact that eight members of their class are still on faculty at UM.

“I think it is an honest sign of respect at a quality institution that so many graduates choose to stay on. or return to this faculty, to conduct their entire careers here,” Telischi said.

For more than 34 years, the Miller School of Medicine Medical Alumni Association has promoted the personal and professional development of medical students by advancing their education, encouraging their research and supporting their community activism through volunteerism, scholarships and a wide range of student initiatives. For more information on alumni events and news, visit

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