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The Department of Anesthesiology Mourns the Loss of Former Chair M. Jane Matjasko, MD

Monday, January 10, 2011

 Dr. Matjasko remained dedicated to the department until her death and recently funded two endowed professorships that bear her name.

Jane Matjasko, MD, the former Martin Helrich Professor and Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and a faculty member for more than 30 years, passed away on January 10, 2011 following a long illness. She was 68. "Our specialty has lost a champion for education, research and patient safety, the department has lost an inspirational and visionary leader, and all of us have lost a good friend and mentor, " says Peter Rock, MD, MBA, the current Martin Helrich Professor and Chair.

Dr. Martha Jane Matjasko graduated from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1968. She then arrived in Baltimore and began a 37-year relationship with the University of Maryland. She served her internship, residency and fellowship in anesthesiology at UMMC, and in 1972 she joined the faculty at the School of Medicine. She served as Vice-Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology before becoming the interim Chair in 1986. She was subsequently named the fourth Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, serving from 1990 to 2005. Dr. Matjasko was only the second woman to chair a department at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

At a time when few women were anesthesiologists, much less department chairs, Dr. Matjasko became a nationally-known leader in her field. She served as Director of the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER), a Director of the American Board of Anesthesiology, and a member of the Accreditation Committee for Graduate Medical Education. She was the author of numerous article, book chapters and abstracts and also authored a book titled: “Clinical Controversies in Neuroanesthesia and Neurosurgery”.

During her stewardship, the Department grew in both scope and complexity of its mission. The Department expanded to include approximately 100 faculty and residents, serving four hospitals and providing expert care in all subspecialties of anesthesiology. During what was considered a challenging period for the specialty, Dr. Matjasko’s leadership and vision for academic anesthesiology resulted in a first-rate department. Dr. Matjasko devoted considerable support to the Department’s research mission in diverse areas including patient safety and neuroprotection.

Dr. Matjasko and her husband were long-time generous financial supporters of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Recently, Dr. Matjasko made a truly magnificent philanthropic gift to the School of Medicine, funding two endowed Professorships in Anesthesiology: The Matjasko Professorship for Research in Anesthesiology (given to Gary Fiskum, PhD) and The Matjasko Professorship for Education in Anesthesiology (given to Mary Njoku, MD).

At a recent event celebrating the investiture of these honored professors, Dr. Matjasko commented, “It is my distinct pleasure to recognize excellence and commitment of our faculty in important areas....To have a complete departmental team, all aspects of the mission for our patients, our school, our trainees, our medical school and hospital must be provided. In the health care environment of today, research and education are not specifically funded. In the spirit of supporting these vital parts of our mission, I am proud to recognize...faculty members who are national leaders in research and education.”

"M. Jane Matjasko was truly a guiding force in the field of anesthesiology, serving as tireless advocate for patients, and a selfless and visionary leader, mentor, and professor." said Dr. Rock in a letter to department personnel regarding Dr. Matjasko's passing. "She was a strong supporter of the medical school and its mission. Dr. Matjasko was a warm, compassionate individual. She was kind to everyone she interacted with-faculty, residents, students, patients, colleagues and staff. However, what she will be most remembered for was her dedication to education—to residents and medical students and their training and education. Over her tenure as Chair, she trained over 300 residents and fellows. Under her leadership, the department developed four medical school courses to introduce students to anesthesiology. She started an anesthesiology externship program for medical students between their 1st and 2nd years of training. Her name will long be synonymous with the practice of anesthesiology at the University of Maryland and throughout the national anesthesiology community."
Dr. Matjasko is survived by her husband, SH Chiu, MD, of Frederick Maryland and a son, David Chiu, MD, of North Carolina. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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