I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. I immigrated to the United States of America at age 19. I started my academic journey at Mankato State University in Minnesota as a freshman student. In my sophomore year I transferred to Emory University in Atlanta from which I graduated with the highest academic honor of Phi Beta Kappa with degrees in biology and chemistry. While at Emory University I ran track and field. In my senior year I represented Lebanon in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games as a runner. I attended medical school at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Throughout my undergraduate and medical school education I performed scientific research in the laboratory. At Stanford University I was the recipient of the Dean’s Award for Research.
My internship training was at the Mayo Clinic following which I returned to Stanford University Hospital where I pursued residency training in radiology. After 2 years at Stanford University I rejoined the Mayo Clinic where I conducted surgical training for 5 years. While at the Mayo Clinic, I was the recipient of the Mayo Brothers Distinguished Fellowship Award, the highest honor given to a trainee. From the Mayo Clinic I went to the Cleveland Clinic Florida where I received additional subspecialty training in the field of colorectal surgery. Following my training I obtained two board certifications in Surgery and Colorectal Surgery. I was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.
Upon completion of my training and board certifications, I was recruited by Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, California, where I spent ten years developing and running a National Center of Excellence in Colorectal Surgery. At Kaiser Permanente I conducted over 30 scientific studies, some funded by the National Cancer Institute of the United States of America. While at Kaiser Permanente, I led the efforts to develop minimally invasive and robotic surgery and I was involved in the residency and fellowship teaching programs. In recognition to my academic and clinical contributions, I was the recipient of several awards at Kaiser Permanente. My expertise and work have been recognized outside Kaiser Permanente. I was appointed to the editorial board of Diseases of Colon and Rectum which is the official journal of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Furthermore I became a member of the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery where I continue to serve as a member of the written and oral examination committees. I have lectured both nationally and internationally and taught surgeons in the classroom and the operating room. I have developed several new techniques in surgery and endoscopy.
In 2013, I was recruited by the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi to become one of its founding fathers and the first chief of the Digestive Disease Institute. During my tenure at the Cleveland Clinic I developed a leading institute that grew from 1 caregiver to over 100 caregivers within the span of 3 years. While in Abu Dhabi, I travelled frequently to Cleveland Clinic in Ohio to teach both clinical and research fellows and to assist colleagues in developing programs in minimally invasive and robotic surgery. Following my achievements at the Cleveland Clinic I decided to introduce and develop the specialty of colorectal surgery in Dubai. Great and exciting things are ahead as I take the level of care of patients with colorectal conditions to a new height in Dubai.
On a personal note, my professional journey could not have been possible without the support and love of my family. I am married to an incredible woman and talented painter and artist, Randa Kassem Abbas. We have three wonderful and loving children, Celina, Karim, and Noor.