March 10, 2011

Dr. Dimitri AzarDr. Dimitri AzarJerry L. Bauman, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, announced today the appointment of Dimitri T. Azar as Interim Dean of the College of Medicine, effective May 1, 2011, pending Board of Trustees approval. Dr. Azar is currently Head of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science in the college. This appointment will follow the retirement of Dean Joseph Flaherty, ending his illustrious 45 year engagement with the college.

Dr. Azar has served with distinction since becoming Head in 2006. He has recruited a dozen full-time clinical and research faculty, and secured three endowed professorships and several endowed lectureships. He updated the department’s facilities on campus and established a new satellite office in Chicago’s Millennium Park.  Dr. Azar has championed translational research in ophthalmology at UIC, adapting for clinical use the rigorous methods of basic science; and he has actively promoted multidisciplinary interactions between basic and clinical research. Under Dr. Azar’s direction, the departmental core grant from National Eye Institute was successfully renewed and a mentored clinical development award is currently pending. A graduate of the American University of Beirut (MD 1983), he has advanced the department’s resident training mission by recruiting outstanding educators, establishing an international resident exchange program and directing an annual intensive educational  course that is attended by over 250 ophthalmology trainees. Thanks to these and other accomplishments the department regained its listing as a top program in the country (2009 US News and World Report).

Prior to arriving at UIC, Dr. Azar enjoyed a highly successful decade at Harvard Medical School, where he served as the Director of the Corneal and Refractive Surgery Services and Associate Chief of Ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He also attained the rank of Professor at Harvard Medical School (2003) and the position of Senior Scientist at the Schepens Eye Research Institute. 1996 marked Dr. Azar’s return to Harvard where he had completed his residency in ophthalmology and his clinical fellowships in Corneal and External Diseases at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and a research fellowship at the Schepens Eye Research Institute. He served as Chief Resident from 1990-91 before joining the faculty of the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he attained the rank of associate Professor in 1996.

Dr. Azar’s research on corneal wound healing has been continually funded by the National Eye Institute R01 award since 1993. He is on the editorial boards of several ophthalmology journals and is the editor or co-editor of 14 books in ophthalmology. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles, 200 book chapters and holds 15 patents.

Dr. Azar is an internationally renowned ophthalmic surgeon. He has been named one of The Best Doctors in America or one of the Castle Connolly Top Doctors in America annually since 1994. He holds several committee positions with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is a member of the American Ophthalmological Association and the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. Dr. Azar has received multiple leadership awards, including the 2009 Lans Distinguished Award from the International Society of Refractive Surgery.  In 2009, UIC selected him for a University Scholar Award, among our highest recognitions of academic scholarship.

Dr. Azar will remain the head of the Department of Ophthalmology during his term as interim dean, and he will continue seeing patients, on a limited schedule, and leading his NEI-funded research program.

Recognized as one of the country’s best medical schools, the University of Illinois College of Medicine is also its largest. There are four campuses in Chicago, Peoria, Rockford and Urbana.