September 23, 2020 by
Margaret Tandoh, M.D., Richard L. Gamelli, M.D.’74 Green and Gold Professor in Surgery (Photo: Medical Communications)
Margaret A. Tandoh, M.D., F.A.C.S, an expert in trauma, burn, and wound care and acute care surgery, has been invested as the inaugural Richard L. Gamelli, M.D.’74 Green and Gold Professor in Surgery at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. The ceremony was held remotely on September 22, 2020. (Link to a video of the ceremony.)
The professorship was established by Richard Gamelli, M.D.’74 and his wife Mary with a vision of integrating the knowledge gained through research to improve and expand the UVM Department of Surgery’s Burn Program. Gamelli spent 20 years in education and service at the University of Vermont, earning his medical degree and completing his five-year surgical residency at what is now the UVM Medical Center. Gamelli stayed on as an attending surgeon at the medical center for 11 years, and during that time he served as vice chairman of the Department of Surgery, mentored countless medical students and residents, and developed his expertise in research and caring for burn patients.
Gamelli’s experience and innovations in burn care led him to a distinguished career at Loyola University Chicago, where he is professor emeritus at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine. He retired in 2014 as the senior vice president and provost of Health Services and the Robert J. Freeark Professor of Surgery. He also served as director of the Burn Center at Loyola University Medical Center.
Among Gamelli’s many honors are the Stritch Medal, Loyola’s highest medical school honor, the President’s Leadership Award from the American Burn Association, the UVM Medical Alumni Association’s Distinguished Academic Achievement Award in 2000, and the inaugural UVM Catamount Surgeon Award in 2017, in recognition of his outstanding involvement as an alumnus, including his years as a member of the UVM Board of Trustees. This Green and Gold professorship honors Gamelli’s accomplished 40-year medical career and aims to support the work of Tandoh and her colleagues in the Department of Surgery and contribute to the missions of research, education, and clinical care.
“It is so fitting that this professorship will be held by Dr. Tandoh, the medical director of UVM's own Burn Center,” said Richard L. Page, M.D., dean of the Larner College of Medicine. “The professorship will stand as an enduring legacy of Dr. Richard Gamelli and his longstanding commitment to fostering the missions of this University and the Larner College of Medicine.”
Like Gamelli, Tandoh has dedicated her medical career to acute care surgery and the treatment of trauma and burn patients. Since joining the faculty at the UVM Larner College of Medicine in 2011, she has provided care to Surgical Intensive Care Unit patients and Emergency General Surgery patients, as well as outpatient care to patients recovering from trauma and burns. She travels throughout Vermont and upstate New York educating hospital staff and emergency medical services on the care of burn patients. Dr. Tandoh has served as the associate dean of diversity and inclusion at the UVM Larner College of Medicine since 2014.
After graduating as the valedictorian of her high school class in Brewerville, Liberia, Tandoh earned a bachelor of arts degree from Grinnell College in 1993 and her medical degree from Meharry Medical College in 1997. She completed a general surgery internship in 1999 at University Hospitals of Cleveland, a general surgery residency in 2002 at Akron General Medical Center, and a critical care/trauma fellowship in 2004 at MetroHealth Medical Center of Cleveland. Tandoh joined the faculty at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., as an assistant professor of surgery in 2004, where she also served as assistant dean of multicultural affairs.
Tandoh is known for her extraordinary commitment to the community at the local, regional, and global levels. At the Larner College of Medicine, she is co-chair of the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and is a member of both the Advisory Council and the Learning Environment and Professionalism Committee. She is a member of the New England Surgical Society Task Force on Diversity in Surgical Leadership and was appointed to the Vermont Medical Board in 2019. Tandoh encourages high school, college, and post-doctoral students in Vermont to shadow her so that she may introduce them to potential careers in the sciences or medicine. In 2014, she received the UVM ALANA Outstanding Club Advisor Award as selected by UVM undergraduate students to honor an outstanding mentor. When the Ebola crisis struck West Africa in 2014 and many physicians and NGO staff were fleeing the “hot zones,” Tandoh boarded a plane to her native Liberia and headed into an area with many patients and few resources. She set up an Ebola treatment unit and cared for patients in dire circumstances for nearly two months in the port city of Buchanan.
“I’m really grateful to the Gamelli Family,” said Tandoh. “Dr. Gamelli has worked tirelessly to improve the care and survival of the burn patient, and I can assure the family that this gift will help improve the lives of burn patients throughout Vermont and beyond.”
Fundraising for the Larner College of Medicine is a major focus for the University of Vermont Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established to secure and manage private support for the benefit of the University of Vermont. During the University’s eight-year Move Mountains comprehensive fundraising campaign, which concluded last summer, donors like the Gemellis helped raise more than $290 million to support the Academic Health Sciences (the Larner College of Medicine, the College of Nursing & Health Sciences, and the UVM Medical Center). Today, the University boasts 125 endowed chairs and professorships—65 of those are associated with the Larner College of Medicine. Find more information about the impact of donors and the work of the UVM Foundation.