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University of Maryland School of Medicine Appoints New Chairman of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Elias R. Melhem, M.D.
 Elias R. Melhem, M.D.

University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., has appointed Elias R. Melhem, M.D., a physician-scientist with extensive experience in the research and clinical practice of neuroradiology, to serve as the John Dennis Chairman of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine.


 “The Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine is an outstanding leader in the growth and expansion of our research, patient care and educational enterprises here at the University of Maryland,” says Dean Reece, who is also vice president for medical affairs of the University of Maryland. “Its distinguished faculty physicians employ cutting edge technology to provide the many departments and specialties within our medical school with unparalleled radiology expertise, helping to diagnose and treat patients across the spectrum of disease. The department’s robust research enterprise is exploring the next generation in imaging technology and techniques. Dr. Melhem is a brilliant physician-scientist with an innovative vision of how academic radiology will be practiced in the future. I am certain that with his very strong record of academic accomplishments along with his collaborative style and strong interpersonal skills, he will be able to effectively lead this large department to the next level of excellence and strengthen its position as a national leader in its field.”


Dr. Melhem will join the University of Maryland School of Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, where he serves as the Wallace Miller Sr. Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, professor of radiology and neurosurgery and director of the Division of Neuroradiology. 


“The Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine is an integral component of patient care at the Medical Center.  We are delighted Dr. Melhem will be joining us to lead this critical department,” says Jeffrey A. Rivest, president and chief executive officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center.


Dr. Melhem will assume the leadership of the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine from interim chair William F. Regine, M.D., who also serves as the professor and Isadore & Fannie Schneider Foxman Endowed Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology. “I offer my sincere thanks to Dr. Regine for his excellent leadership of the department during his time as interim chair,” says Dean Reece.


“I look forward to being a part of the University of Maryland’s collaborative environment and the enthusiasm and ambition of its research scientists,” says Dr. Melhem. “The entire School of Medicine is rapidly rising in the research rankings and scholarship nationwide, and I want to join that process. I feel strongly that this is the perfect time for me to join the University of Maryland and to be a part of that rise.”


Joining Dr. Melhem at the University of Maryland is his wife, Lina Y. Melhem, M.D., who will be appointed in the Division of Endocrinology in the Department of Medicine. Her recruitment marks a return to the University of Maryland, where she completed her residency and a fellowship in endocrinology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.


Dr. Elias Melhem directs a robust research program that has held significant National Institutes of Health funding throughout his career. He has held nearly $10 million in external research funding, from the NIH to support his research program. His research focuses in part on brain function in children with sickle cell disease. His laboratory has used techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to discover that sickle cell causes progressive cognitive impairment in such children. His laboratory also examines changes in vascular reactivity to examine how tumors transform from benign to malignant, in hopes of finding early indicators for this malignant transformation. His team also uses advanced MRI techniques to evaluate upper motor neuron disease in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.


Dr. Melhem hopes to continue his own research at the University of Maryland and enhance the already strong research program of the entire department. “My goal is to bring the department’s external funding into the top 10 among radiology departments nationwide,” he says. Dr. Melhem also hopes to expand and improve clinical care and to strengthen the department’s educational enterprise, emphasizing research as well as clinical care for students.


He received his M.D. from the University of South Alabama School of Medicine in 1988; an internship and residency in pediatrics at the University of Iowa; a residency in radiology at Johns Hopkins University in 1993, and a fellowship in neuroradiology at Johns Hopkins in 1995.


Dr. Melhem began working at Boston University Medical Center in 1995 as an assistant professor of radiology, then director of the Division of Neuroradiology in 1997. He moved to Johns Hopkins in 1998, advancing to associate professor of radiology and research scientist at Johns Hopkins’ Kennedy Krieger Institute. In 1999 he became director of pediatric neuroimaging and medical director of the Kirby MR Research Center at Hopkins. In 2002 he joined the University of Pennsylvania, advancing to professor of radiology and neurosurgery, and director of the Division of Neuroradiology for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. In 2006 he was named the Wallace Miller Sr. Vice Chair for Academic Affairs.


Dr. Melhem is a distinguished and highly regarded physician and scientist and has received many honors, including being named the Melvin M. Figley Fellow in Radiology Journalism from the American Roentgen Ray Society, serving as an examiner for the American Board of Radiology, a member of the editorial board for the journal Radiology and a member of the editorial board for the American Journal of Roentgenology. He also has served as a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the NIH Clinical Center, a member of the National Center for Research Resources special Emphasis Panel for Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Special Emphasis Panel for Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers. Dr. Melhem is a prolific scholar, having written more than 140 peer-reviewed journal articles.


“Dr. Melhem has led a distinguished and accomplished career, and I am certain that he will elevate our department to new heights,” says Dean Reece.

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