Department of surgery names new chief of pediatric surgery

Saleem Islam, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of surgery, UF College of MedicineA University of Florida Health pediatric surgeon who serves as director of pediatric minimally invasive surgery and leads the pediatric surgery fellowship at the UF College of Medicine has been named chief of the department of surgery’s division of pediatric surgery.

Saleem Islam, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of surgery who joined UF’s College of Medicine in 2007, has replaced longtime division chief, David Kays, M.D., who is retiring.          

“As the new chief of the division of pediatric surgery, Dr. Islam brings a unique skill set that will promote growth in children’s surgical services clinically and academically,” said Kevin Behrns, M.D., chair of the UF College of Medicine department of surgery. “He is an outstanding clinician who excels at minimally invasive techniques and gastrointestinal surgery. In addition, he has a superb national reputation in outcomes research, which will advance our academic efforts. We look forward to working with Dr. Islam to continue building an ever more excellent pediatric surgery team.”

Islam is board-certified in pediatric surgery and is a fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He earned his medical degree from the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan. He completed his general surgery residency at the University of Massachusetts, later becoming a research fellow in pediatric surgery at Harvard Medical School, and completed a pediatric surgery fellowship at the University of Michigan. He obtained his master’s degree in public health from the University of Massachusetts.

He also serves as chair of both the American Pediatric Surgical Association’s Outcomes and Evidence Based Practice Committee and the Publication Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Surgery. In addition, he’s trained as an advanced trauma life support instructor for the American College of Surgeons.

As a researcher, Islam’s clinical interests include studying gastrointestinal motility disorders and how care can be advanced to improve outcomes for children with these conditions. He has published more than 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals, focusing on outcomes-based research as well as multicenter studies and trials.

As division chief, Islam aims to build more clinical collaborations between pediatric surgery and various specialties within the department of pediatrics, to help further the vision and mission of the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. He also hopes to bolster already successful programs within the division, such as the UF Health Pediatric Burn Center. The center is the only program of its kind in North Florida and treats patients from across the region.

Pediatric surgeons within the division work closely with their counterparts in pediatric medicine to treat congenital heart conditions, gastroenterological disorders and many other pediatric conditions. UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital is ranked among the nation’s top 50 programs in cardiology and heart surgery, as well as gastroenterology and GI surgery, according to U.S. News & World Report. The children’s hospital also has a successful extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, program, which has been providing life-sustaining support for children for the past two decades.

“There is a lot to be proud of,” Islam said. “It stems from the great people we have in the division, the staff and faculty and the people we are recruiting.”

Other goals Islam has for the division include expanding educational efforts and devising more innovative ways of teaching, building on existing educational strengths in the division. He also hopes to broaden the division’s involvement in quality improvement research, ensuring surgeons are providing the best care possible to patients.

“We want to assess what we have been doing so we can do it better. We won’t know how to improve until we look at what we have done in the past,” he said. “We also plan to continue to work on translational research — translating basic science to clinically relevant problems — and engage in multicenter trials and studies so we can devise better ways of treating children for today and the next generations.”

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April Frawley Lacey

Editor / College of Medicine Science Writer

Editor of The Post and a medical writer in the HSC Office of News & Communications. Before joining the HSC News & Communications staff, she was a reporter and assistant...Read More