American University of Beirut

Passing of Dr. Samir Najjar (1932-2023)

Dear members of the AUB community,

It is with a heavy heart that we received news on Friday, February 3, 2023 of the passing away of the much revered “معلم muallem" (the teacher), Dr. Samir Najjar, emeritus professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine, former dean of the Faculty of Medicine at AUB, and the first pediatric endocrinologist in the region. His legacy as a mentor, clinician, academic, and administrator will continue to influence our university positively through his outstanding work over the course of a highly distinguished career in medicine, and through his students, including many who hold prestigious positions in academia and medicine around the world.​

During his many years of exemplary service at the American University of Beirut and its medical center, Dr. Najjar was an inspiration and a role model for generations of academicians, researchers, and clinicians alike, many of whom have gone on to become leaders in pediatrics around the globe. He led the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and the pediatric residency training at AUB to international recognition. During his tenure as dean, Dr. Najjar recruited many outstanding physicians, scientists, and leaders, reinvigorating AUB's Faculty of Medicine and the medical center after the Lebanese Civil War. He also initiated work on centers of excellence and renovated and modernized equipment and service departments at the medical center, including diagnostic radiology, radiation oncology, and laboratory medicine, restoring the AUBMC medical services to their prior eminence and quality. He also contributed to strengthening the educational programs, both at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Dr. Najjar began his academic and clinical journey in medicine at AUB, earning his bachelor's in biology in 1953 and his medical doctorate in 1957 after a year of rotating internship in pediatrics at the university's hospital. He then joined the University of lowa Hospital, where he completed two years of residency in pediatrics (1957-59) and one year of fellowship in pediatric endocrinology (1959-60). In 1964, he completed a three-year fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, where he also later served as assistant professor of pediatrics (1970-71).

He first joined the faculty of AUB in 1960 and was promoted to assistant professor in 1963, associate professor in 1968, and professor of pediatrics in 1974. He led the Department of Pediatrics as acting chairman (1966-68) then as chairman (1968-86) and served as deputy chief of staff at AUBMC (1972-76). In 1987, he relocated to the US where he was appointed associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, staying there until 1994. He also served at Children's Hospital, Boston, where he was chief at the Rotch Medical Service (1986-88) and clinical director of the Division of Endocrinology (1988-94).

In 1994, during a critical period of rebuilding after the war, Dr. Najjar eagerly returned to the American University of Beirut to lead as dean of the Faculty of Medicine and AUB Medical Center, being hailed by then-president of AUB, Robert Haddad, as “a teacher, clinician, and scholar of the first rank." He served as dean until 2000 and also held the position of professor of pediatrics. Dr. Samir Najjar was awarded Teacher of the Year at the Department of Pediatrics in 2005 and 2009, a mark of the continuous attention he devoted to the teaching of his beloved art. An internationally renowned expert in his field, Dr. Najjar was on the Advisory Expert Panel on Pediatric Endocrinology of the International Pediatric Association and served on the Editorial Board of the Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal.

While his outstanding mentorship of a generation of leading pediatric clinicians and specialists and his leadership of the Department of Pediatrics and medical school of his alma mater rank among his greatest contributions, Samir Najjar was at his core a consummate master clinician. In Baltimore, Boston, and especially Beirut, he thoroughly earned his reputation as a compassionate caregiver, a master at the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents. He held himself and his staff to the highest standards, as this kind gentleman refused to compromise in the care of his patients. Many generations of healthy children, adults, and seniors live better, healthier lives today forever in his debt. He led not only by his example, but by his dedicated and evidence-based teaching, like few others could, the art and practice of medicine, an area in which he had few peers over the course of his distinguished career.

We at AUB and at our medical center will forever be grateful for all that Dr. Najjar has done for his alma mater, the university he called his own, where he spent the vast majority of his life, and for the extraordinary service he rendered the wider world. A pioneer in his field, Samir Najjar will long be remembered as much for his compassionate and expert clinical care of patients as for his groundbreaking contributions to the world of medicine and pediatrics in the region, in Lebanon, and at the American University of Beirut.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and students.


Fadlo R. Khuri, MD


Office of the President

American University of Beirut​
T +961 1 35 00 00 – Ext 2500

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