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The Catalyst

Division unveils portrait, pays tribute to colleague

By Mikie Hayes
Public Relations

Interventional Radiology director Dr. J. Bayne Selby, from left, joins Drs. Jerry Reves, College of Medicine dean emeritus, and Philip Costello, Radiology and Radiological Science chairman, during the portrait unveiling of the late Dr. Renan Uflacker. photo by Sandra Stringer, Vascular & Interventional Radiology

Colleagues of Renan Uflacker, M.D., hosted a special reception during the Feb. 20 Sanctuary of Endovascular Therapy meeting, to celebrate his life and accomplishments. Dr. Uflacker was a beloved MUSC physician and researcher who passed away in 2011 and his family and friends joined colleagues to honor him.

During the reception, toasts were  made, stories shared and a portrait of Dr. Uflacker was unveiled to his family and guests. The portrait, painted by local artist Lynda Selby, evoked applause, tears and many warm memories.

The Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology has been holding its annual SET meeting for the last nine years. In 2012, the year following his death, the Renan Uflacker Memorial lecture was introduced and will be presented each year during the SET meeting. This year the special reception and portrait unveiling took center stage at the event.

More than 80 people attended the reception including his wife, Helena Uflacker, and his two children, Alice Uflacker, M.D., currently a psychiatry resident at Duke University, and Andre Uflacker, M.D., a radiology resident at the University of Virginia who will begin his fellowship in vascular and interventional radiology this summer. Both of his children graduated from MUSC’s College of Medicine.

Also in attendance were representatives from the MUSC administration, colleagues from nearly every department, former trainees who returned for the conference and personal friends from the Charleston area.

J. Bayne Selby, M.D., director of the Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, and Dr. Uflacker’s longtime interventional radiology partner at MUSC, provided a heartfelt introduction and shared with guests a bit of history surrounding the tribute. 

“This entire process was clearly a labor of love for all involved. The ease with which this tribute was taken from conception to completion is unparalleled in similar type projects I have been involved with and shows the wide impact that Renan had on the field of medicine.”

In a toast to Dr. Uflacker, Selby noted the generous outpouring of support for the portrait from those who knew him best. “Those of us who were Renan’s contemporaries during our training studied under those who basically invented the field. Renan on the other hand had no pioneers in Brazil to learn from, so he studied what was being done around the world and became the interventional radiology pioneer for Brazil.”

Dr. Uflacker’s daughter and son appreciated the opportunity to share personal stories about their father with guests who came to honor him. 
Alice Uflacker described the gratitude she felt when she saw her father “in his element” at MUSC, first when she served as a volunteer and later as a medical student. “Thank you for honoring him today in such a special way and for allowing me to share my memories.”

Her brother, Andre, added his own personal sentiments. “I really envy those of you who got to work with him on a daily basis for so long. It’s because I chose the same occupation that I harbor this envy, and because my teacher and role model left me before the lesson really began,” he said.

Jerry Reves, M.D., Distinguished University Professor and dean emeritus of the College of Medicine, spoke about the man and the physician and how fitting it is to honor a colleague who gave so much of himself to MUSC and the world.

“Renan Uflacker is one of the few people who can justifiably point to personal involvement in the creation of a subspecialty of medicine, in his case interventional radiology. He did this with his keen intellect, creative energy, hard work, and uncompromising devotion to his patients and his field.  In so doing he brought international recognition to MUSC, and his untimely early death has left a void felt by many near and far.  He is greatly missed,” Reves said.

Marcelo Guimaraes, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, also shared his recollections of Dr. Uflacker and what an inspiration he was to so many.

Dr. Uflacker joined the Department of Radiology in 1993 and served as a professor and director of the Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology until his death.

Colleagues were moved to do something exceptional to commemorate the man and mentor they respected and cared for, and in 2013, it was decided that commissioning a painting to be permanently placed at MUSC would be a fitting tribute. 

Contributions were made by former students, trainees, friends and colleagues. Support was prompt and generous, according to Selby.  “In fact,” he said, “more than the required amount was obtained and the remainder will support other aspects of interventional radiology at MUSC in Dr. Uflacker’s name.”
Many physicians were moved by this tribute and in particular the beautiful portrait. “I would encourage other departments at MUSC to honor and remember their great physicians in a similar manner,” Selby said.

Artist Lynda Selby was selected at the family’s request to paint the portrait because she knew Dr. Uflacker personally. His portrait was painted with oil on linen in the traditional style. However, one may notice a crossed flag pin on his lapel featuring a flag of Brazil — where he came from — and also the U.S. flag, which commemorates Dr. and Mrs. Uflacker becoming U.S. citizens.

February 27, 2014

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