Buja retires, named dean emeritus

By Darla Brown, Office of Communications

L. Maximilian Buja, MD Retirement

Friends, family, and colleagues honor Dr. Max Buja upon his retirement Feb. 27 in the Fifth Floor Gallery. (Photo by Danny Palomba/Office of Communications)

Following 35 years of service to UTHealth Houston, including seven years as Medical School dean, L. Maximilian Buja, MD, celebrated his retirement Feb. 27 in the Fifth Floor Gallery.

President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, presented Buja with a framed title of his new dean emeritus status. “We always learn from people like you,” he said.

Richard Andrassy, MD, senior vice president for clinical affairs and strategy and chair of the Department of Surgery, remembered Buja as a well-liked, active, and extremely fair dean in dealing with the chairs.

“In addition to listening and working with us, he made decisions that weren’t necessarily in his best interest but in favor of the chairs,” Andrassy said. “He was a true mentor – someone to emulate as a chair, dean, and someone at all levels.”

Buja said that as dean he served the tripartite missions of all medical school deans – teaching, research, and patient care. “But I had a fourth mission with flood recovery,” he joked, referencing the rebuild of the Medical School following Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.

“I have had the privilege and honor to be a faculty member engaged in teaching, research, and clinical service for 35 years at UT-Houston and also to serve as a department chair, dean, and other leadership positions,” Buja said. “I have strived to make a positive contribution in these various activities to students, patients, and other members of the faculty. I look forward to continuing in an emeritus status going forward.”

Buja joined the Medical School faculty in 1989 as the chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Distinguished Chair in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine – a position he held until 1996, when he was named dean and H. Wayne Hightower Distinguished Professor in the Medical Sciences.

He earned a medical degree with honors from Tulane University School of Medicine as well as a master’s of science degree in anatomy from Tulane’s graduate school. He completed his medical internship at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and served as staff associate in the pathology section of the National Heart and Lung Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. He was a resident in pathology with the National Cancer Institute and a senior investigator at the National Heart and Lung Institute. Prior to joining McGovern Medical School, he was on the faculty of UT Southwestern Medical School.

His additional leadership positions included chief of Cardiovascular Pathology at Texas Heart Institute, executive director of the TMC Library, and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at UTHealth Houston.

Internationally recognized for his research in cardiovascular pathology, he is the author of more than 240 research articles, 150 book chapters, and two books.

His numerous awards include the Haran J. Spjut Award from the Houston Society of Clinical Pathologists, election to Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Caldwell Award from the Texas Society of Pathologists, and the Award of Merit from the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology. He created the Shine Academy, which fosters excellence in education in the health sciences by recognition of outstanding educators and advancement of knowledge and innovation in the field of education.