UIC surgeon named Carnegie ‘Great Immigrant’

Maria Siemionow

Dr. Maria Siemionow. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services (select image to download larger file size)

Dr. Maria Siemionow, professor of orthopaedic surgery in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, has been named one of this year’s “Great Immigrants” by the Carnegie Corp. of New York.

The annual tribute honors naturalized citizens who have made notable contributions in the fields of science and medicine, the arts, politics, business and technology. The 41 honored will be featured in a full-page ad in the New York Times July 4.

“This is a great honor for Dr. Siemionow and we congratulate her,” said Dr. Dimitri Azar, dean of the UIC College of Medicine. “Her contributions to the field of microsurgery and transplantation are known around the globe, and we are excited to have her on our faculty.”

Siemionow, who is originally from Poland, joined the UIC faculty earlier this year after 18 years as director of plastic surgery research and head of microsurgical training at the Cleveland Clinic.

She is the first U.S. physician to receive Institutional Review Board approval for facial transplantation surgery. In 2008, she led the team of surgeons that performed the first near-total face transplantation in the United States at the Cleveland Clinic.

At UIC, her clinical focus is on microsurgery, hand surgery and peripheral nerve surgery. Her research is aimed at reducing tissue rejection and the need for lifelong immunosuppressive drugs in transplant patients. She is also developing techniques to enhance nerve regeneration.

Siemionow is a member of the academic-industry team known as the Warrior Restoration Consortium, which focuses on the development of clinical therapies and new treatments for wounded military as part of the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Siemionow earned her medical degree from the Poznan Medical Academy in Poland, where she completed her residency in orthopedics. She earned a Ph.D. in microsurgery and completed a hand surgery fellowship at the Christine Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery in Louisville, Ky.

She was associate professor of surgery at the University of Utah, where she earned a doctor of science degree in microcirculation research. Siemionow was director of plastic surgery research and head of microsurgical training at the Cleveland Clinic before joining the faculty of UIC.

In 2009 she received the Polish Order of Merit, the Commander’s Cross Polonia Restituta Award, from the president of Poland. She is president of the American Society for Reconstructive Transplantation and past president of the International Hand and Composite Tissue Allotransplantation Society and the American Society for Peripheral Nerve.

Other “Great Immigrants” this year include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and U.S. ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard, authors Reza Aslan and André Aciman, Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Maria Contreras-Sweet, Nobel Prize winner in medicine Roger Guillemin, musicians Tan Dun and Dave Matthews, actress Sara Ramirez and actor/comedian Aasif Mandvi, and fashion designers Vivienne Tam and Carolina Herrera.

More on the “Great Immigrants”

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