Who We Are
Omaida Velazquez, NAM

Omaida Velazquez, NAM

Professor with Tenure, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, David Kimmelman Endowed Chair in Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of Miami, Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine

Omaida C. Velazquez, M.D., F.A.C.S., Professor with Tenure, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, David Kimmelman Endowed Chair in Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Omaida C. Velazquez is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, member of the American Surgical Association, the Southern Surgical Association, and Distinguished Fellow of the Society for Vascular Surgeons, all elite societies composed of the nation’s most prominent and leading doctors and scientists in American Medicine.

She is a nationally and internationally renowned surgeon-scientist, recognized within her field and the broader community of physician scientists, as seen by her induction into the American Society for Clinical Investigators (ASCI) and the highly prestigious National Academy of Medicine. In 2021, she was appointed Treasurer of the SSA. Her preclinical research on stem cells and angiogenesis, wound healing, atherosclerosis, and limb salvage, are related to peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and vascular complications of Diabetes. Dr. Velazquez’s team publishes in high-impact scientific journals such as Nature- Metabolism, Stem Cells, Journal Clinical Investigation, Mol Cell Biol, Atherosclerosis, and PLoS One. She has continuous NIH funding for over 15 years. Her discoveries yielded several patents with translational potential on the homing and pro-repair functions of stem cells in post-natal revascularization of ischemic tissue. These findings have paved the way to ongoing clinical trials for PVD and diabetic non-healing wounds, unsolved pathologies that account for over one hundred thousand amputations annually, in the U.S. alone. Velazquez’s work led to the development of a new gene/cell regenerative therapy that may one-day eradiate most amputations. She publishes her clinical work in the top Surgery journals, such as Annals of Surgery and Journal of Vascular Surgery.

Dr. Velazquez has advanced clinical endovascular treatments for PVD and aneurysmal disease. Her work is highly quoted, accounting for an H-index of 45. Her contributions have enhanced clinical protocols and promise to advance care for several unsolved vascular diseases. Her leadership as an academic surgeon is greatly valued as evidenced by her appointment as the first Latina Chair of Surgery & Surgeon-Chief in the USA, in 2015-2023. Under her leadership, the Surgery department rose from 27 to top 11 on the NIH Blue Ridge National ranks. In 2021, she received the Latina Pioneer of the Year Award. In addition to her roles as a surgeon, educator, and scientist, Dr. Velazquez served as the Executive Dean of Research, Research Education, and Innovative Medicine for the Miller School of Medicine from 2012-2015. Under her leadership, investigators across campus welcomed her administrative contributions to the clinical and pre-clinical research infrastructure; administrative processes were de-mystified and interdepartmental communications increased in transparency and efficiency. During the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2023), Dr. Velazquez served as a member of the Joint Operational Leadership Team (JOLT) for the University of Miami Health System and Chaired the Workforce Management Committee (Resilience and Recovery).

Dr. Velazquez was born in Cuba and immigrated to the USA in 1980 during the Mariel exodus. She enrolled in Union City’s Union Hill High School bilingual program, was mentored by Mrs. Nadia Makar, and graduated fourth in her class in 1983. Dr. Velazquez obtained her B.S. in Chemical Biology from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1987 with High Honors & Scientific Thesis and obtained her M.D. degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey- New Jersey Medical School graduating Valedictorian (with the highest attainable overall GPA) in 1991. She completed her post-graduate training in General Surgery Residency and Vascular Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her clinical training, she pursued two additional years in surgical research training and was the recipient of the 1997 Jonathan E. Rhoads Research Award. She received the von Liebig Foundation Award for Excellence in Vascular Surgical Research (2001), the University of Pennsylvania Center of Excellence Faculty Scholar Award (2002), and the Joel J. Roslyn Faculty Research Award (2003) from the Society of University Surgeons. In 2015, Velazquez received the Penn Surgery Julius A. Mackie Distinguished Graduate Award from the University of Pennsylvania and in 2017, she received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Rutgers- New Jersey Medical School.

Before joining the UM Miller School of Medicine, Dr. Velazquez served on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania for eight years and became an Associate Professor with tenure.