Dr. James Suen named to new UAMS chair

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Dr. James Y. Suen has been named the inaugural recipient of the Patricia and J. Floyd Kyser, M.D. Chair in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Patricia and J. Floyd Kyser, M.D., of Little Rock, are the benefactors responsible for the establishment of the chair, which will be used to advance Suen’s internationally recognized work in head and neck surgery. Suen trained under Kyser as an otolaryngology resident in the 1970s.

Suen was invested in the chair in a ceremony May 12 held in the Sam Walton Auditorium in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

“This generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. Kyser will ensure that the legacy of outstanding head and neck clinical care and medical education started by Dr. Suen more than 40 years ago will continue to grow and flourish for many years to come,” said UAMS Chancellor Dr. Dan Rahn.

An endowed chair is the highest academic honor a university can bestow on its faculty, according to UAMS. It is supported with donations of $1 million, with the chair holder using the interest proceeds for research, teaching or service activities.

Suen is the son of immigrant parents who settled in Dermott, Arkansas. He credited Kyser with teaching him many things in and out of the operating room.

“I was amazed at how fast and efficient he was,” Suen said. “I would watch him do six or seven operations and be through by noon. He was also great with patients. I learned a lot about how to interact with patients by watching him.”

Suen’s primary interests are the treatment of head and neck cancer and the management of vascular anomalies, for which he established a treatment team that is internationally known.

He is the co-editor of seven major textbooks, including four editions of Cancer of the Head and Neck, which are used in universities around the world. He has published more than 150 scientific articles and book chapters and received multiple awards, including the Distinguished Professor Award and Distinguished Faculty Service Award from the UAMS College of Medicine. He also received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in 1994-95.