March 25, 2020

Scholarship Honors UAMS College of Medicine Physicians

By Benjamin Waldrum

This philanthropic investment will be used to fund the Drs. Lee Archer, Joseph Chacko, and Sami Uwaydat Endowed Scholarship, which will be awarded to one or more third- and fourth-year College of Medicine students with a demonstrated financial need.

The donors, who choose to provide this support anonymously, were inspired to create the scholarship fund to advance the critical need of health care in Arkansas and expressed hope their gift would inspire others to make similar gifts in support of education. They offered to match dollar for dollar the first $5,000 contributed by additional donors to this scholarship in 2020.

“Our mission to generate the very best physicians for Arkansas starts with recruiting top Arkansas students to UAMS,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and College of Medicine Dean Christopher T. Westfall, M.D. “Scholarships are a crucial tool in this effort, so we are always grateful for those who initiate and contribute to scholarships.”

“The donors of this new scholarship have shown that they aren’t just generous, but also forward-thinking,” Westfall said. “By encouraging others to contribute, the endowment will grow more quickly and potentially be able to support more promising and deserving medical students.”

“This scholarship is also special in honoring three truly world-class faculty physicians,” he added. “I am not at all surprised that the donors were inspired by Dr. Archer, Dr. Chacko and Dr. Uwaydat.”

Archer is chairman of the College of Medicine Department of Neurology. For more than 30 years at UAMS, Archer has provided world-class care for Arkansans with Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke and movement disorders while teaching and mentoring future neurologists. He is a neurologist and professor in the College of Medicine and holds the Major and Ruth Nodini Chair in Neurology. He is past president of the Arkansas Medical Society, the largest professional society for physicians in the state. College of Medicine seniors have awarded Archer three Gold Sash and numerous Red Sash awards for his teaching, and he has received numerous awards from the college.

Chacko has been the director of neuro-ophthalmology at the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute since 2005. He has 25 years of experience in performing cataract surgery. Chacko is a professor for the Departments of Ophthalmology, Neurology and Neurosurgery in the UAMS College of Medicine and holds the Sally McSpadden Boreham Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology. He is the medical student clerkship director in ophthalmology. In addition, he has served the underprivileged in Ghana and Guatemala through yearly surgical mission trips for over 20 years.

Uwaydat is an ophthalmologist with the UAMS Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute and an associate professor and former interim chair in the Department of Ophthalmology in the College of Medicine. He holds the Martha Wood Bentley Chair in Ophthalmology. Uwaydat is director of vitreoretinal service, medical director of the Leland and Betty Tollett Retinal and Ocular Genetics Clinic, and director of the Ocular Electrophysiology Lab. His research focuses on age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and treatment of traumatic eye injuries.