Ahmad Tarakji, MD

Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), President

Dr. Ahmad Tarakji is the President of the Syrian American Medical Society, a non-profit, non-political professional and medical relief organization that provides assistance to Syrians in need and represents thousands of Syrian American medical professionals in the United States. In 2016, SAMS treated more than 3 million Syrians. Dr. Tarakji is also a current Board member of the SAMS Foundation.Dr. Tarakji is a cardio-thoracic surgeon in California, and a former clinical assistant professor at Stanford University. At SAMS, he spearheads and participates in numerous initiatives, including providing trauma and critical care courses for Syrian physicians and nurses, overseeing SAMS’s advocacy work, chairing the two previous SAMS International Conferences in Turkey, the International Conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and the most recent National Conference in Boston. Dr. Tarakji leads SAMS partnerships with UN agencies and NGOs to expand the Whole of Syria (WoS) response plan and efforts to address medical emergencies in Syria. Dr. Tarakji also leads SAMS partnerships with Universities in the U.S. and Europe to establish education, relief, and post-crisis rebuilding programs for Syria.

Mazen Kewara, MD

Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), Turkey Director

Dr. Mazen Kewara is the Turkey Country Director of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). Originally from Damascus, Syria, Dr. Mazen has a medical degree in vascular surgery from the University of Damascus and has worked in the Tishreen Hospital in Damascus. In 2011 when the conflict in Syria began, Dr. Mazen began treating victims of the war in Syria, but had to leave for Turkey with his family in 2012. Dr. Mazen then began working with SAMS, and was the founding staff member of the SAMS Turkey office. As Country Director, Dr. Mazen oversees the growth and expansion of SAMS’s northern Syria programs, including supporting health workers, sponsoring hospitals, providing cross-border medical assistance, training hundreds of doctors and nurses, and advocating for protection of health care workers, full humanitarian access to all besieged areas and the people in need.

Mufaddal Hamadeh, MD

Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), Board Member

Dr. Mufaddal Hamadeh is a practicing physician, board-certified in Medical Oncology and Hematology, by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He completed his fellowship in Hematology & Oncology at the University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine atMercy Hospital and Medical Center Affiliate, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL. He attended Damascus University Medical School. He is currently a physician with the Alpha Med physicians group, and an associate clinical professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Since 2014, Dr. Hamadeh has acted as the SAMS Midwest Chapter president. He is also a SAMS foundation board member, a member of SAMS advocacy committee and the SAMS Lebanon committee member. He has led and participated in several missions, including one to Syria and seven to Lebanon. He is one of the founders of SAMS Chicago, formed in 1998. Dr. Hamadeh is 57 years old, married with four daughters.

Aula Abbara, MD, MBBS, BSc, DTMH

Imperial College London, Consultant & Researcher 

Aula Abbara is a consultant and researcher in Infectious Diseases/ General Internal Medicine at Imperial College London. She has volunteered with the Syrian American Medical Society since 2012 in various capacities including direct clinical work in Jordan, teaching Syrian healthcare workers in Turkey and leads their research committee. She was Project Lead for their response in Greece between 2016 and 2018 where they provided more than 30,000 primary healthcare consultations. Other humanitarian work includes on the Thai-Burmese border, refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria (pre-conflict), the Rohingya crisis and in Sierra Leone with MDM for the ebola response. Current research projects include an MRC grant on Health Systems Research in Syria, an R2HC grant on Public Health impact of Attacks on Healthcare and a collaboration on AMR in conflict. She is co-chair of Health Professionals for Global Health and the Syria Public Health Network.

Ioannis Baskozos, MD

Regional Committee for Europe (SCRC) of the World Health Organization (WHO), Chair

Ioannis G.Baskozos was born in Athens in 1955. He is a graduate of the Medical Faculty of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, specializing in Endocrinology in Diabetes & Endocrinology and Metabolism from the Department of Athens General Hospital. He has participated in congresses in Greece and abroad, as speaker, and has published papers in scientific magazines and congresses in topics of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism. He served as Vice-President and Chairman in the scientific and professional syndicate of Greek –Endocrinologists “Hellenic Society of Endocrinology” and served as First Vice-President of “Panhellenic Medical Association”. Dr. Baskozos serves as the Secretary General for Public Health in the Ministry of Health, since February 2015. He is the head of the committee for the National Action Plan for the elimination of Hepatitis C, head of the committee for the National Action Plan of migration and health, & coordinator of the committee for health coverage of refugees, migrants and vulnerable groups. During the past two years he is constantly participating as a speaker in many international conferences and sessions on issues concerning immigration (especially health care problems of immigrants and refugees). In addition, he is responsible for the development of international cooperation of the Ministry of Health and for the cooperation with WHO and the other international organizations. He is an elected member of the Standing Committee of the Regional Committee for Europe (SCRC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chair since September 2018.

Luciano Saso, PhD

Sapienza University of Rome, Professor

Prof. Luciano Saso (Faculty of Pharmacy and Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy) received his Doctorate in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Sapienza University in 1992. He is author of more than 200 scientific articles published in international journals. He’s coordinated several research projects in the field of pharmacology and has been referee for many national and international funding agencies and international scientific journals in the last 25 years. He has extensive experience in international relations and he is currently Vice-Rector for European University Networks and Member of the Council for Doctoral Education at Sapienza University of Rome. He has been Member of the Steering Committee of the UNICA network of the Universities from the Capitals of Europe for two mandates (2011-2015) and in October 2015 he was elected President for the period 2016-2019. He is the Representative of Sapienza University in the M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centers, Universities and National Academies and Member of the Steering Committee of the Association of Academic Health Centers International (AAHCI). In 2017, 2018 and 2019 he organized in Rome M8 Alliance Expert meetings on Migrants’ and Refugees’ Health.

Samer Jabbour, MD, MPH

Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Associate Professor

Samer Jabbour pursues dual work in public health as an associate professor of practice in the Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, and in medicine as a cardiologist. A specialist in non-communicable diseases, he served as Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases & Mental Health at WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (Egypt) between 2013 and 2015. Samer Jabbour focuses on regional and international collaborations on health in the region, managing several large initiatives. He is a Co-Chair and Convener of the Lancet-AUB Commission on Syria: Health in Conflict and is the founding chair of a global network focusing on health and armed conflict. He leads the Public Health in the Arab World initiative (see book of same title, Cambridge University Press, 2012, which was “highly commended” at the 2012 BMA Medical Book Awards). He co-led the Lancet Series Health in the Arab world: a view from within published in 2014. Samer Jabbour completed a medical degree (MD) at Aleppo University Faculty of Medicine (Syria) and a Master in Public Health (MPH) degree at Harvard School of Public Health (US). He trained in internal medicine at Evanston Hospital/McGaw Medical Center, Northwestern University and in cardiology at Lown Cardiovascular Center/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School (both in US).

Nizar Albache, MD

IDF, Chair

Nizar Albache was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1953, graduated from Franche-Comte University in France in 1980 and undertook postgraduate training in Diabetes and Endocrinology from Franche-Comte University & Bourgogne University, France in 1984. From 1986-2012, he was an Associate Professor and consultant in the department of internal medicine at Aleppo University Hospital, and the Head of Diabetes Research Unit at Aleppo University. He is currently a consultant in the Endocrine & Diabetes department at Hotel-Dieu hospital du Creusot in France, the Chair of IDF diabetes in humanitarian settings committee, the past Chairman of the IDF-MENA region, the past President of Syrian Endocrine Society, the former president of the Arab Group for Study of Diabetes, former vice president of Mediterranean Group for Study of Diabetes, the former Administrative-director of the Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies and the past vice president of Syrian Diabetes Association. He is the chair of the IDF committee to help diabetic refugees and the WDF, IDF and SAMS program to help diabetic refugees in Lebanon. He has many publications on Diabetes, epidemiology of Diabetes in Syria, Obesity and Thyroid diseases.

Ahmad Alshibi, RN, CNS-PMH

Cash to Access Essential Health Services (CAEHS), Lead

Mr. Alshibi is an experienced Public health professional with a master’s degree in clinical Psychiatric and Mental Health from the University of Jordan. He worked as a clinician at the Kind Hussain Cancer Center for about two years before he joined MedNet Global Healthcare Solutions LLC in 2013 as Senior Medical Officer. In 2015, Mr. Alshibi supported ICRC health activities on the northeastern border of Jordan, where thousands of Syrian asylum seekers were stranded behind the Jordanian-border. This experience passioned Mr. Alshibi to leave the private sector and join the UNHCR as Public Health Associate in 2016. Among other responsibilities, Mr. Alshib is currently leading the Cash to Access Essential Health Services (CAEHS) Project for Syrian refugees in Jordan, serving as the focal officer for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in the health unit of UNHCR Jordan, and coordinate referrals to secondary healthcare services in urban areas. In addition, Mr. Alshibi has three peer reviewed studies in the field of emergency psychiatry.

Richard Sullivan, MD, PhD

King’s College London, Professor & Institute of Cancer Policy (ICP), Director

Professor Richard Sullivan studies health systems, particular NCD policy, and the impact of conflict on health. He is a Professor of Cancer and Global Health at King’s College London, and Director of the Institute of Cancer Policy (ICP) and co-Director of the Conflict and Health Research Group. Richard is an NCD advisor to the WHO, civil-military advisor to Save the Children, and a member of the National Cancer Grid of India. His research focuses on global cancer policy and planning, and health systems strengthening, particularly conflict ecosystems. He is principle investigator on research programs ranging from automated radiotherapy planning for low resource settings to use of augmented/virtual reality for cancer surgery, through to political economy to build affordable, equitable cancer control plans. Richard has led five Lancet Oncology Commissions and worked on four others. In conflict systems, his research teams have major programs in capacity building in conflict medicine across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as studies of the basic package of health services in Afghanistan, civil-military co-operation in health security, polio eradication and insecurity in Pakistan, and use of intelligence in high security disease outbreaks. Professor Sullivan qualified in medicine and trained in surgery (urology), gaining his PhD from University College London. He has worked in humanitarian settings for a wide range of organisations e.g. OSCE, UN, NATO across the globe since 1988.

Ammar Sabbouni, MD

Lancet- AUB Commission on Syria & SAMS Education Committee

Ammar Sabouni is a member of the SAMS Education Committee and research affiliate with the Lancet- AUB Commission on Syria. He is interested in Evidence Based Medical Education in conflict, in addition to working on scoping the literature on health and armed conflict and examining the conceptual approaches used to study health and war. Ammar is a clinical academic trainee at the University of York. Born in Syria, he started his medical degree in Damascus and qualified from University of Cairo after being displaced during the war. He has previously worked for Cochrane UK and has experience in systematic reviews.

Sharif Ismail, MBBS, MPH

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Fellow

Sharif Ismail is a Clinical Research Training Fellow at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK. He combines academic research with service work as a public health doctor in the National Health Service, and is a qualified clinician. His research interests lie primarily in health policy and systems research, with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa. He has a particular interest currently in understanding how health systems adapt (or otherwise) to acute and chronic stressors arising from armed conflict. Before qualifying in medicine he worked in public policy analysis for RAND Europe, the Institute for Government, and the Nuffield Trust.

Faisal Shehadeh, MD

Klinikum Hanau, Orthopedic Surgeon

Born 1983 in Aleppo, Syria, Dr. Shehadeh studied medicine at the University of Aleppo. He graduated in 2006, and specialized in orthopaedic and trauma surgery in Germany. He is currently working as a consultant in orthopedic and trauma Surgery in Klinikum Hanau.

Basel Termanini, MD

Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), Vice President

Dr. Termanini is the Vice President of SAMS and was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. Three years after graduating from Aleppo University, he emigrated to Washington DC in 1986, where he resided for ten years. During this time, he was a researcher at George Washington University, followed by Internal Medicine residency at Georgetown university, followed by a GI fellowship at Georgetown University – National Institute of Health (NIH) program. In 1997, he moved to Pittsburgh, PA, where he started a private GI practice, followed by a large multi specialty group. In 2011, he joined a local hospital as a practitioner. He married Cheza, also from Aleppo, and they have three children, Sammy and Kareem in medical school and Firas, who is studying business. During a brief visit to northern Syria in 2013, Dr. Termanini’s first since the eruption of the war, he realized that SAMS was one of the most active medical relief organizations on the ground in Syria. Upon his return to the US, he established a chapter in Pittsburgh and became actively involved in the Turkey regional and fundraising committees. Since this initial visit, Dr. Termanini has visited northern Syria 6 more times. He was elected as VP of National SAMS in 2015. In the past two years, Dr. Termanini has been actively involved in the many milestones that SAMS has accomplished, including the tripling of the number of medical services provided. Dr. Termanini has acted as the chairman of the fundraising and media committees, and is an active member in the Turkey regional, GI, advocacy and membership committees. He also acts as a chairman of two international conferences and co-chair of two national conferences. He has completed seven GI missions in the field to northern Syria and Turkey. He also initiated SAMS’s medical student scholarship program. He has been an active fundraiser for SAMS, his efforts contributing to the collection of close to 1.7 million dollars in five months for the foundation. He is also a vocal advocate for SAMS, having conducted many TV, radio, newspapers and online interviews on behalf of the organization. Dr. Termanini is consulting the filmmaking team as a story and cultural advisor.

Yamama Bdaiwi, MD, MSc

SAMS Education Committee

Dr. Bdaiwi is a Syrian physician who studied medicine at Damascus University at the time of war and had to interrupt her studies to leave to Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE. Dr. Bdaiwi was awarded the Oxford Students-at-Risk Scholarship to study an MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care at the University of Oxford. Dr. Bdaiwi’s thesis covers Conflict and Medical Education and Health Professionals Training in Syria. In addition, Dr. Bdaiwi is an active member of the SAMS Education Committee.

Huda Abu-Saad Huijer RN, PhD, FEANS, FAAN

American University of Beirut, Professor 

Dr. Abu-Saad Huijer received her BSN from AUB and her Masters and PhD from the University of Florida, USA. Her career span includes professorial positions at the University of California, San Francisco, University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, University of Surrey UK, and currently AUB. During her academic tenure in the Netherlands as head of the Nursing Science Program, she was instrumental in developing the MSN and PhD programs, and in establishing the Centre for Nursing Research. Since her appointment at AUB in 2003 she has launched the MSN, RN-BSN, (bridging degree), and BA/BS-BSN (second degree) programs of study and has coordinated the accreditation of both BSN and MSN programs by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in the USA. More recently, she developed the PhD program in Nursing Science which was launched academic year 2018-19. Dr. Huijer’s program of research is on pain management and palliative care in children and adults. She is currently involved in a number of studies addressing chronic pain and palliative care in Lebanon. She is past president of the Lebanese Society for the Study of Pain and Vice-President of the National Committee on Pain Relief and Palliative Care. Dr. Huijer is the author of more than 300 scholarly publications and 2 books. Dr. Huijer received many awards & recognitions for her research work: Life Time Achievement Award from the McMillan Cancer Fund in London; Pioneers Award from the Order of Nurses in Lebanon; distinguished researcher award from the Scientific Society of Arab Nursing Faculties. She was also inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, awarded the International Association for the Study of Pain Honorary membership, received the Princess Mona Regional Award for her significant contribution to the nursing profession, and most recently received the National Center for Scientific Research career award for her life time research achievements.

Majd Isreb, MD, FACP, FASN

Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), Board Member

Dr. Isreb is a graduate of Damascus University School of Medicine. He finished his Internal medicine residency at St. Joseph hospital- Northern Univ. in Chicago and did his fellowship in Nephrology at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. He has been in private practice since 2003. He has been active in medical relief through SAMS nephrology subcommittee and organized and led several medical missions to Jordan. He was the chairman of the Jordan relief committee and the chairman and the acting executive director of SAMS foundation. Currently, he serves on its board of directors.

Lina Murad, MD

Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), Former Board Member

Dr. Lina Murad, is an interventional nephrologist. She received her medical degree from Damascus University, did her training at Georgetown University and The George Washington University. She is involved in the care of Syrian patients with kidney disease and has co-published on the care of renal patients during conflicts in Kidney International, Clinical Nephrology, Nephron and other journals. She has lead multiple Training missions for the Dialysis Technicians and bio meds. She was a SAMS Board member and Secretary and presently works with the Education Committee. 

Senan Ebrahim, PhD

Hikma Health, Founder & CEO

Dr. Senan Ebrahim is the founder and CEO of Hikma Health. He is dedicated to building robust data systems using cutting-edge technology to improve health outcomes for Syrian refugees. He has a PhD from Harvard in Computational Neuroscience, in which he applied machine learning approaches for seizure prediction in epilepsy. He has taught biostatistics and programming courses at Harvard Medical School. He has previously worked to build products for global health, including at nference, CrowdMed and Daktari Diagnostics. Senan is passionate about sharing the data revolution in medicine with those who can benefit from it most.

Talal Kanaaan, MEng

Energy Specialist

Talal is an energy specialist focusing on the intersection of public service resilience and renewable energy, particularly for health systems. He advises a number of organizations on transitioning health systems to clean energy. Organizations include the WHO, UNICEF Middle East Regional Office, German Agency for International Cooperation, and the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM). At UOSSM, Talal leads the HIRS project focusing on an integrated resilience approach for the health system in conflict and resource constrained areas. Talal also previously held engineering and project management roles in the solar photovoltaic EPC sector for Commercial & Industrial applications in North America. Talal has a Master in Engineering from the University of Toronto focusing on energy systems, and a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Nottingham.

Rita Dayoub

Centre of Global Health Security, Chatham House, Fellow

Rita Dayoub is an Academy Asfari Fellow at the Centre of Global Health Security, Chatham House. She examines and analyzes the local protection measures and strategies that have been implemented by local health providers in Syria, Yemen, and Palestine. Prior to this, she worked with the health humanitarian response and protection in Syria, Zimbabwe and South Sudan with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Rita is also the founder of the Health Workers at the Frontline story-telling initiative.

Iyad Alkhouri, MD

Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), SAMS Mental Health Committee

Dr. Alkhouri is the medical director of behavioral health at Aetna Better health, a staff psychiatrist and consultant , a diplomate of the American boar of psychiatry, child and adolescents psychiatry and addiction psychiatry. Dr. Alkhouri’s focus is on the public understanding of mental health, underprivileged population access to quality care, and community rebuilding and resilience. He lives and practices in Chicago, and is married with three children.

Yassar Jomah Kanawati, MD

Chris Counseling Center in Atlanta, Director

Dr. Yassar Kanawati is Board Certified in Child /Adolescent/Adult and Addiction Psychiatry. She completed her Psychiatry Residency and Fellowship at Wayne State University in Michigan. She is currently the Medical Director of Chris Counseling Center in Atlanta, GA. She has her own Private Practice in the Atlanta area. She is an Adjunct Professor at Emory Medical School. She is an Adjunct Professor at Morehouse School of Medicine. She was the Medical Director of Family Intervention Specialists and of Devereux Residential Treatment Center. In November, 2012, Dr. Kanawati visited Amman Jordan where she assessed the psychiatric needs of the Syrian refugees there and started with the support of SAMS a Psychosocial Support Team. Among her areas of expertise are Depression and Mood Disorder, ADHD, and Disruptive Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the effects of trauma and war on family members, particularly on children.

Volker Westerbarkey, MD, MSc

Médecins sans Frontières (MSF)

Volker Westerbarkey is a German medical doctor who starting working with Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) in 2004 in Myanmar. In the following years he also worked for MSF in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Sudan. His areas of expertise were mainly HIV and tuberculosis. Since 2012 Volker is a member of the board of MSF Germany and became its president in 2015 until May 2019. In this position he visited several MSF projects in Jordan, Pakistan, Yemen and Kirgizstan. He also gained a master degree in International Health and lives in Berlin, Germany. Since 2014 he works as general medicine specialist in his own practice with a special focus on drug addicts.