Ron Karni, MD, a board-certified otorhinolaryngologist at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, was among a group of 10 physicians from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School invited to deliver lectures at the National Cancer Institute of Panama in Panama City. The physicians were invited last April as guests of His Excellency Ricardo Alberto Martinelli, president of the Republic of Panama, and Panamanian Vice Minister of Health Julio Santamaria.

An assistant professor in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Dr. Karni’s clinical interests include head and neck oncologic surgery and robotic-assisted and minimally invasive surgery. He spoke on robotic surgery and its utility in finding the unknown primary site in head and neck cancer. “I was honored to be asked to represent the Head and Neck Cancer Program at Memorial Hermann-TMC and to speak about the paradigm shift in head and neck cancer care,” he says. “We’ve evolved to a careful titration of treatments – surgery, radiation and chemotherapy – to achieve a cure while optimizing functional outcomes.”

The invitation came as the result of a cooperation agreement between UTHealth and the University of Panama signed in 2009. President Martinelli showed his support for the agreement by traveling to Houston for the signing ceremony, and credited medical oncologist Adan Rios, MD, an associate professor in the department of Internal Medicine at McGovern Medical School and Republic of Panama Ambassador for the Promotion of Health, with championing the project. Dr. Rios, a native Panamanian, organized the April visit and was a member of the group.

“The lectures our group delivered were very well received,” Dr. Karni says. “It was a wonderful opportunity to establish a collaborative relationship between our cancer center and Panamanian oncologists, pathologists and surgeons, who have shown great skill in dealing with complex cancer cases.”