Sami Uwaydat, M.D., Invested in Martha Wood Bentley Chair in Ophthalmology

By Lee Hogan

Uwaydat Investiture

Christopher T. Westfall, M.D., director of JEI.

Uwaydat is an ophthalmologist at the UAMS Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute and associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine. He joined UAMS in 2008 and serves as director of vitreoretinal service, medical director of the Leland and Betty Tollett Retinal and Ocular Genetics Clinic, and director of the Ocular Electrophysiology Lab.

Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., provost and chief academic officer at UAMS, and Richard Turnage, M.D., the College of Medicine’s executive associate dean for clinical sciences, presented Uwaydat with the chair medallion.

Christopher T. Westfall, M.D., director of the Jones Eye Institute, said, “Dr. Uwaydat’s professionalism and knowledge in ophthalmology are second to none and this honor is greatly deserved. We are grateful for his work on our team in the last several years and look forward to his continued brilliance.”

Also speaking about Uwaydat at the ceremony were John P. Shock, M.D., founding director of Jones Eye Institute and a distinguished professor in the Department of Ophthalmology in the UAMS College of Medicine, and Michael N. Wiggins, M.D., chief of ophthalmology at North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System and adjunct professor in the UAMS College of Health Professions.

John P. Shock, M.D., founding director of JEI and a distinguished professor in the Department of Ophthalmology.

John P. Shock, M.D., founding director of JEI and a distinguished professor in the Department of Ophthalmology.

An endowed chair is the highest academic honor a university can bestow on its faculty. A chair can honor the memory of a loved one or may honor a person’s accomplishments. It is supported with donations of $1 million, with the chair holder using the interest proceeds for research, teaching or service activities.

“This is an incredibly humbling experience,” said Uwaydat. “This chair has, and will continue to, foster medical advances and I am honored to accept this distinction. I pledge to do my best with this marvelous opportunity.”

Uwaydat earned his bachelor’s degree in physics and his medical degree at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He completed two residency programs, one in the Department of Surgery at American University and the second in ophthalmology at UAMS. He repeatedly scored in the top 1 percent of all ophthalmology residents nationwide. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Raymond and Mary Morris Residency Research Award and Resident of the Year Award.

He also completed a vitreoretinal surgery fellowship at the University of Texas at Houston and a medical retina fellowship at New York University.

Uwaydat has co-authored several manuscripts and has lectured internationally on ophthalmology. He is a member of the Arkansas Ophthalmologic Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and the American Society of Retina Specialists.

Uwaydat Investiture 2

Sami Uwaydat, M.D., ophthalmologist at JEI and associate professor in the College of Medicine.

His clinical interests include repair of retinal detachments, treatment of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, diagnosis and treatment of retinal infections and inflammations, and diagnosis of inherited retinal diseases. He has served as an investigator on several national studies, including age-related eye diseases/macular degeneration, and has taken part in multiple investigator-initiated studies at the Jones Eye Institute.

Martha Wood Bentley of Fort Smith, who died in 2007, was a longtime supporter of the Jones Eye Institute and served more than 10 years on its advisory board. During her lifetime and through her estate she gave UAMS nearly $1.7 million, with a portion of that used to create the Martha Wood Bentley Chair in Ophthalmology.

Bentley was a graduate of Briarcliff College and Stanford University and a past president of the Fort Smith Junior League. She was a lifelong member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Smith.