Dr. Riad Barmada, 84, professor emeritus and former head of orthopaedics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, died Jan. 10. He lived in Oak Brook, Ill.
Barmada, who retired in 1999, served as head of the department from 1984 to 1998. He remained active in the orthopaedic clinic at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System until just a year ago.
"Long before diversity in the workplace became something important to strive for, Dr. Barmada worked quietly to bring women and minorities into orthopaedic surgery, which was a particularly male-dominated specialty in the 70s," said Dr. Mark Gonzalez, the Riad Barmada Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and head of orthopaedics at the UIC College of Medicine. "He never made a big deal about it, but people noticed. Our orthopaedics department was unusually diverse for the time, and that was to his credit."
Internationally recognized as an expert on total joint replacement, Barmada authored more than 40 journal articles, book chapters and abstracts. He was a pioneer in the use of cemented and ceramic total hip replacements, becoming one of the first in the Chicago area to use the Charnley total hip replacement, and helped to lead to its widespread adoption.
Both of Barmada's sons went into orthopaedics. Owen Barmada is a physician's assistant in the department at UIC; his brother Adam is an orthopaedic surgeon at Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Ore.
"We didn't wind up in orthopaedics because our dad pushed us into it," said Owen. "He supported us in all our endeavors, whatever they were. We just ended up gravitating towards his field."
"Our dad was very dedicated to UIC and the hospital," said Adam. "He was incredibly supportive of the residents in the orthopaedic program and their educations."
A native of Syria, Riad Barmada received his medical degree from Syrian University Medical School in Damascus. In the early 1960s, he helped found a medical school in Aleppo where the curriculum was taught in English, so that students could learn from the most current medical literature without having to wait for translations.
Barmada completed a year of general surgery training at Damascus Hospital before coming to Chicago. He completed an internship at Walter Memorial Hospital, followed by an orthopaedic residency at UIC. He joined the UIC faculty in 1967 and became professor of orthopaedics in 1972. He also held appointments at Michael Reese Hospital, Ravenswood Hospital and the West Side Veterans Administration Hospital. He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and president of the Chicago Committee on Trauma. He also served as president of the Illinois Orthopaedic Society in 1991.
Barmada is survived by his wife, Gloria (Ribnek), sons Adam (Frances) and Owen (Christine), and five grandchildren.
A memorial ceremony will be held March 1 at 10 a.m. at UIC's Student Center West, 828 West Wolcott Ave. For information call 312-996-7161. Contributions can be made to the Riad Barmada, M.D., Orthopaedic Research Fund, UIC College of Medicine Medical Advancement Office, WROB Suite 302, 1747 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, IL 60608.