Loyal UF Ambassador Dr. Mutasim Abu-Hasan Returning to Lead Pediatric Pulmonary Division

By Heidi Saliba

For Dr. Mutasim Abu-Hasan, returning to the “land of the Gators” is the natural next step in his well-established career.

“Florida has a special place in my heart,” Dr. Abu-Hasan said. “There is a lot of loyalty to the place and it has a lot of family feeling to it. I like that, and I love Gainesville.”

Dr. Abu-Hasan completed his medical degree at The University of Jordan, then came to UF for his residency during the years 1993 to 1996. After that, he left to complete his fellowship training at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and was then awarded his first faculty appointment at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. This position, which he held from 2000 to 2008, prepared him for directorship of the pediatrics pulmonology program at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He will be returning in late October to the University of Florida to serve as Chief of the Pediatric Pulmonary Division.

“It means a lot,” Dr. Abu-Hasan said. “It means that it feels like coming back home…to be able to pay back. This is where I started my career in pediatrics and where I got my inspiration to begin my career in pediatric pulmonary.”

His vision is to bring experiences from other places back to the source of his training, so as to help strengthen and grow the division as never before.

“When I was a resident I was inspired by the faculty; I liked the science and the patients as well. The good work they do in Florida really makes a difference; it makes people continue to remember them and instills a great loyalty in people. I served as an ambassador for Florida while in Iowa, and I’d love to come back and contribute to others, what was contributed to me,” he said.

During his time at UF, Dr. Abu-Hasan was influenced by Dr. Frank Debusk, who he describes as, “one of the great pillars.” Dr. Abu-Hasan also benefitted from his work with Dr. John Nackashi, Dr. Donald Eitzman, and Dr. Abby Wagner among many others. “It’s going to be nice to come back and work with them,” Dr. Abu-Hasan said.

The feeling toward Dr. Abu-Hasan is reciprocal, according to Dr. Nackashi who serves as Chief of General Pediatrics at UF. It was Dr. Nackashi who lead the search committee to recruit Dr. Abu-Hasan, based on his experience, knowledge, communication skills, and innate insightfulness.

“He is interested in medicine but also in meeting the needs of the children and family,” Dr. Nackashi said. “I believe he will have the skills and leadership abilities to enhance and advance the clinical, teaching, and research missions of pulmonology.”

Dr. Abu-Hasan’s ideas for the future are driven by his commitment to patients, with eyes on teaching and leading. “As a physician it’s really the feeling that you’re making the difference in someone’s life [that inspires you],” he said. “I think by leaving a legacy behind you in training, the field is always personally satisfying.”