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Research Builds Better Doctors

Alumnus establishes research competition to enhance trainees’ professional skills
Andrew Sama ’91, M.D. ’95

Andrew Sama ’91, M.D. ’95


s a resident at the University of Miami / Jackson Memorial Hospital, Andrew Sama ’91, M.D. ’95, desired more opportunities to engage in long-term research projects. He saw the value of such projects not only as an important part of practicing medicine, but also for the positive interactions they can facilitate between faculty and students.

“During that time, there really wasn’t a mechanism for research support,” said Dr. Sama, co-chief of Spine Services and associate attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “So, I wanted to help expand opportunities for medical students and residents to initiate, design, and implement research.”

Dr. Sama and his wife, Liza, established the Sama Family Research Award in the Miller School’s Department of Orthopaedics. The initiative created an annual research competition open to students and residents. Participants present their abstracts to a panel of judges, and the top three winners receive cash prizes.

Sheila Ann Conway, M.D., director of the Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program, said the Sama Award has been a critical piece in transforming the department’s culture and approach to research.

“Our people are more engaged in doing research, and they believe it’s part of being a good doctor,” Dr. Conway said. “Research is central to our overall mission. We want to be on the side of innovation. Ultimately, the patients benefit by having highly engaged physicians who are up to date on best practices. We are grateful for Dr. Sama’s support and value the generosity of alumni supporting education and research.”

A longtime Miller School donor, Dr. Sama serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council. The Sama family has developed a legacy at the University of Miami and the Miller School as well: son Drew is a medical and MBA student, while son Sebastian recently earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. Dr. Sama’s brother, Nicholas Sama, M.D. ’99, is also an orthopedic surgeon who completed his residency at Miami in 2004.

Dr. Sama credits his experiences at the University of Miami with shaping his personal life and career.

“The patient evaluation skills and surgical techniques I learned, along with the breadth and complex nature of the diverse pathologies we treated at Miami, have continued to influence and shape who I am academically and professionally,” said Dr. Sama, who is also an associate professor of clinical surgery at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. “I’m forever grateful for my experience at the U.”

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