Innovation, initiative, and sheer controlled risk-taking have marked the growth of the American University of Beirut’s School of Medicine, ever since its humble beginnings one year after the inauguration of the Syrian Protestant College in 1866. A number of medical firsts and surprising break-through have kept pace with the ongoing development of the school until the present day. Among these successes was the creation of Middle East Medical Assembly(MEMA) itself which is an annual internationally renowned medical conference that brings to Beirut outstanding physicians of the world, and provides undoubtedly up-to-date educational opportunities to physicians from the entire the region.
During the first 25 years of MEMA, outstanding practitioners from abroad lent stature to the organization such leaders as Sir Lionel Whitbey in hematology; Mr. Avery Jones, Dr. Alan O. Whipple, and Dr. Edward Churchill in surgery, Nobel Prize winner Sir Peter Medawar, Dr. Sheila Sherlok world reference in liver disease, Dr. John Goodwin, and Dr. Paul White the last two world renowned cardiologists. Following that first meeting in 1911, the Medical Conference was held every other year except during World Wars I and II. It became assembly in 1954, and under the new designation, MEMA, a much broader international gathering was held annually until the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in 1975. MEMA held a modest revival in 1988, until full-fledged meetings were once again resumed in 1992 and remains the largest medical meeting in the region.