By Spencer Watson
Oct. 12, 2020 | Ahmed A. Sallam, M.D., Ph.D., a renowned eye inflammation and retinal specialist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, has been invested with the John W. Nutt Chair in Ophthalmology.
Sallam is director of the uveitis service, associate professor of ophthalmology, and director of the ophthalmology residency program. A formal investiture ceremony will take place when visitor restrictions required by the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted.
“Dr. Sallam is an incredible physician, researcher and teacher, and we are very grateful to have him on our world-class team here at the Jones Eye Institute,” said Paul Phillips, M.D., chair of the Ophthalmology Department and director of the UAMS Jones Eye Institute (JEI). “He is certainly deserving of this honor, and his work in all three mission areas of our institution is a great benefit to our patients, students and colleagues, both now and into the future.”
An endowed chair is among the highest academic honors a university can bestow on a faculty member. A chair is established with gifts of at least $1 million, which are invested and the interest proceeds used to support the educational, research and clinical activities of the chair holder. Those named to a chair are among the most highly regarded scientists, physicians and professors in their fields.
The John W. Nutt Chair in Ophthalmology was established in 2012 with a gift from Nutt, who died in 2007, and his family and close personal friends to benefit research, education and patient care.
“John Nutt was a longtime supporter of the College of Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology and UAMS as a whole,” said John Shock, M.D., founding director of the Jones Eye Institute. “Mr. Nutt was a leader in the development of the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute. He served as the founding chairman of the JEI Advisory Board and served five years as the chair during the planning and construction of JEI.”
As a glaucoma patient most of his life, Nutt was an advocate for research and improving eye care. He was a 1957 graduate of Arkansas Tech University, where he was inducted in the Hall of Distinction in 1973 and was honored with the title of Presidential Fellow in 2005. He served four years in the military as a paratrooper and ranger, then returned to North Little Rock after his service to become president of the J. W. Nutt Company, a commodities brokerage firm founded by his father, J. W. “Jack” Nutt.
“I took care of John Nutt for 25 years, and as he noted at my retirement, I treated five generations of his family. He was one of my finest patients and a true friend to me and to our department,” said Gissur Petursson, M.D., former interim chair of the Ophthalmology Department. “I believe he’d be pleased to see a physician as skilled as Dr. Sallam holding the chair named for him, and would say his legacy is in good hands.”
Sallam, who joined UAMS in 2016, completed two fellowships in ocular inflammation (uveitis) and retina at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. Moorfields Hospital, regarded as one of the United Kingdom’s finest eye treatment centers, is the largest eye hospital in Britain and one of the largest in the world.
Sallam specializes in the management of uveitis with emphasis on the use of the most advanced systemic and intraocular medications. He also specializes in the treatment of vitreoretinal disorders including retinal detachment, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
He has completed fellowships in vitreoretinal surgery in the United Kingdom. He is board certified in ophthalmology from the U.K. Royal College of Ophthalmologists and has held a prior consultant appointment at the Ophthalmology Department, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust in the U.K. His expertise led to his being made a Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
“I am very grateful to have been selected to honor the legacy of Mr. Nutt, to continue the work he so passionately believed in and the institution he so generously supported,” said Sallam. “I was drawn to Jones Eye by its reputation for research and clinical care in a center of education and will always work to maintain that high standard of excellence as the holder of this distinguished chair.”
Active in educational speaking, training and research, Sallam has published over 100 peer reviewed scientific manuscripts and book chapters and presents regularly at national and international meetings.
As director of the ophthalmology residency program in the UAMS College of Medicine, he is directly shaping the training experience of the next generation of ophthalmologists who will practice throughout Arkansas and beyond.