Dr. Hazim Safi
Dr. Hazim Safi

Dr. Hazim J. Safi, professor and chair of the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery Department at McGovern Medical School, made history this week with his induction into the Academy of Athens as a Corresponding Member.

The Academy of Athens, Greece’s national academy founded in 1926, is a reflection in name and an extension of the Academy of Plato first founded in 387 B.C. and cultivates education and research in scientific research, literature, and the fine arts. The academy held an induction ceremony Nov. 7, conducted by former Greek Prime Minister Lukas Papadimos, and welcomed Safi as a Corresponding Member – a distinguished member of academia who is not a Greek resident.

Safi’s achievement is also important as he is now the second cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon from the United States to be inducted into the Academy. He joins the late Dr. Michael DeBakey, under whom he trained, as the only other American cardiovascular surgeon at the institution. Currently, there are 40 Associate Members, 40 Foreign Members, and 250 Corresponding Members, according to the academy’s website.

Over the past 40 years, Safi has been praised for his “legendary” surgical skills and has become an institution in the field of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery. His career interest has been in complex aortic surgery and his major contributions to the discipline have focused on detailed studies of multiple organ protection during aortic surgery and the development of protocols that have been widely adopted around the world.

He completed a fellowship at St. James’ Hospital in London, England, before joining the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, in 1977, where he was trained in the United States system for general surgery as well as cardiothoracic and vascular surgery. After more than two decades at Baylor, in 1999 he joined McGovern Medical School, then known as the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, as professor and chairman of its Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery. Safi also serves as chief of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery at the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute.

Houstonia magazine listed him as a Top Doctor and he has written or co-written 30 book chapters and over 200 scientific articles in medical journals. Safi gives lectures and workshops internationally for surgeons and his studies have helped improve surgical techniques that have greatly improved outcomes.