American University of Beirut

  • History


      Departmental Photo 1973 

    ​​One of the first departments of the medical school was the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology that was established in 1872. The first Maternity and Women’s Hospital was built in 1908. There were other institutions run by Americans that were indirectly associated with the University thereby rendering their facilities available to the medical students. One of these facilities was the Maternity and Prenatal Clinic in Beirut that was under the direct supervision of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at AUBMC. It was funded by the Guiragozian Foundation and was located in the area around the Armenian refugee camps. It was used for the training of pupil midwives and fourth year medical students. They offered a home delivery service whereby normal cases were delivered in their homes and abnormal cases were referred to the hospital.

    Dr. Richard Brigstocke was the first chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1872-1884. Dr. John Fisher then followed until1890, Dr. William Schouffler until 1895, Dr. Franklin Moore until 1915. He performed the first cesarean section in Lebanon in 1908. Dr. Harry Dorman headed the Department until 1941 and thus had the distinction of holding the longest tenure as chairman of the Department. During his term, the “Dorman clinic” next to the main hospital was created. Dr. Mustafa Khalidy chaired the Department during the Second World War years until 1945, then Dr. Harold Teel until 1948, Dr. Philip Ashkar until 1950, Dr. Robert Alter until 1952, Dr. Homer Rhea until 1955, and Dr. Suzan Williamson from Columbia University until 1960. During her tenure, the residency program was expanded in line with the requirements of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the first epidural anesthesia for painless obstetric deliveries in Lebanon and the region was performed in 1958. It is to be noted that AUB was among the few universities in the world with a combined chair of obstetrics-gynecology as an independent discipline.

    Dr. William Bickers then chaired the Department until the Lebanese civil war erupted in 1973. During the days of Dr. Bickers, the Department comprised sixteen attending physicians and the construction of the new hospital was finished. In 1970, the Department moved to occupy its current location. It consisted of a modern delivery suite on the 7th floor, an outpatient department, offices for faculty members, and a modern private clinics area. The clinical demands were great and hence the 60 beds on the seventh floor were fully occupied. Patients were referred from other Arab countries. Affiliation with Makassed Hospital was started and the Department was a recipient of a large grant through Johns Hopkins to train Middle Eastern gynecologists in fertility control modalities.

    Due to the unfortunate events, Dr. Bickers had to leave the country with several of the attending physicians. The Department shrunk to a handful of physicians who managed to carry on with the teaching and care of the patients. Dr. Samir Hajj succeeded Dr. Bickers until 1981 and was the first non-American chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was followed by Dr. Ramez Azoury until 1986. Dr. Karam Karam chaired the Department from 1987-1999 and he was a pioneer in introducing endoscopic surgery to Lebanon and the region. Dr. Suidan and Dr Seoud were appointed as acting chairmen of the Department from 1998-2000 and from 2001-2002, respectively. Dr. Mroueh then chaired the Department from 2003-2011. Currently, Dr. Nassar is the chairman of the Department since 2011.

    The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology was honored by having two of its members become ministers in the Lebanese government. First was Dr. Adnan Mroueh from 1982-1984 as Minister of Health, and then Dr. Karam Karam from 1998-2000 as minister of health, and from 2000-2003 as minister of tourism and in 2004 as a minister of culture.

    Throughout the years, the Department grew and expanded to become a referral center in Lebanon and the region. With the leadership of Dr. Anwar Nassar the department now includes 3 divisions:

    • Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine that provide intensive and quality patient care to high risk pregnancies.
    • Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility that provide state-of-the-art individualized fertility treatment plans to couples seeking child bearing in a professional and patient-friendly environment.
    • Division of Gynecologic Oncology that provides a variety of diagnostic and treatment modalities related to gynecologic oncology in all its aspects. The gynecologic oncology patients’ load at AUBMC has steadily increased over the last years and the diversity and complexity of the procedures have grown as well.

    ​​Many renovations were done to the various units of the Department. The Dr. Khaled Idriss Delivery Suite was renovated twice in 2001 and 2014. In 2010 the Women’s Health Center was inaugurated. Its services include preconceptional consultations and antenatal follow-ups, routine annual gynecologic checkups and Pap smears, contraception, and sexually transmitted infection screening and treatment, plus other services related to women’s health. In 2017 the renovation of the Haifa Idriss Assisted Reproductive Techniques Unit was completed.

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