NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Creates Program Dedicated to Treating Facial and Skull Malformations in Children

Made Possible by Generous Gift From Phyllis and David Komansky<br/><br>Noted Craniofacial Surgeon Dr. Samuel Rhee Appointed Director

Apr 10, 2008


A new craniofacial surgery program has opened at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Made possible by a generous gift to the Hospital from NewYork-Presbyterian trustee David H. Komansky and his wife Phyllis Komansky, the program will offer comprehensive care, including corrective surgery, for deformities of the skull, face and jaw.

An estimated one in 200 American babies will require specialized care for congenital conditions like cleft lip and palate, or for issues resulting from traumatic injury or disease.

Noted craniofacial surgeon Dr. Samuel Rhee has been appointed director of the new Hospital program. He has also been appointed assistant professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Rhee to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, and his superb talents make him an ideal choice to lead our new craniofacial program. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to Phyllis and David Komansky for their generous funding of this program which will go a long way toward transforming the lives of children needing craniofacial surgery," says Dr. Fabrizio Michelassi, chairman of the Department of Surgery and the Lewis Atterbury Stimson Professor of Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and surgeon-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

"Children with these abnormalities suffer both physically and psychologically. Together with colleagues in surgery and other departments, I look forward to developing new procedures to improve the way these children look and feel," says Dr. Rhee.

Working with Dr. Mark Souweidane, chief of pediatric neurosurgery, Dr. Rhee intends on refining new minimally invasive techniques for treating craniosynostosis, the premature fusing of an infant's skull that restricts skull growth.

Previously, Dr. Rhee served as director of Craniofacial Surgery at New Jersey Medical School — University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and was a craniofacial surgery fellow at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Dr. Rhee received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his training in general surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. Subsequently, he completed an NIH-funded research fellowship and residency in plastic surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Dr. Rhee is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

He is a recipient of the Moses Gunn Investigator Award at the University of Michigan Medical Center for surgical research. He also serves as attending surgeon at University Hospital (Newark, N.J.), St. Barnabas Medical Center (Livingston, N.J.) and Hackensack Medical Center (Hackensack, N.J.).

He has published research on topics including distraction osteogenesis — a surgical technique used to reconstruct skull and facial bone deformities — and serious facial injuries.

In addition to Dr. Rhee, the multidisciplinary craniofacial team includes audiologists, geneticists, pediatricians, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, pediatric dentists, pediatric ophthalmologists, pediatric otolaryngologists (ENTs), pediatric neurologists, pediatric neurosurgeons, social workers and speech pathologists.

Members of the surgical team regularly organize and participate in non-profit missions to other countries, including Bangladesh, Colombia, Honduras, Ecuador and China, to treat children with cleft lips, cleft palates, and other craniofacial conditions.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances — from the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer to the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth, and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally-conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian, which is ranked sixth on the U.S.News & World Report list of top hospitals, also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Pavilion. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit and

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John Rodgers