Dr. Maisam Abu-El-Haija

NASPGHAN Celebrates Maisam Abu-El-Haija, MD, MS

To recognize Arab American Heritage Month, NASPGHAN would like to highlight Dr. Maisam Abu-El-Haija, a pediatric gastroenterologist who has had tremendous achievements in the field and won many awards. One of her early missions was to build the first-ever pediatric multi-specialty Pancreas Care Center at CCHMC, and that became a destination for many families and patients, as well as providers, to get their pancreatology training. She is the Medical Director of the Ohio/Kentucky Chapter- National Pancreas Foundation (NPF), Course Co-Director for the NPF Annual Fellows Symposium, past Chair of the Pancreas Committee NASPGHAN, President of the Collaborative Alliance for Pancreatic Education and Research (CAPER), president of PancreasFEST as one of the largest international pancreas meetings currently. These highlight examples of her high-level visibility in leadership positions that she currently serves in.

Full Name and titles: Maisam Abu-El-Haija, MD, MS
Professor of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati
Faculty, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center

Current position and institution: Medical Director of the Pancreas Care Center, Medical Director of the Islet Isolation Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Hometown: I was born in New York City, NY, and raised in Amman/ Jordan. I proudly have two homes: one in the US and one in Jordan.

Favorite GI disease: Is this a question? Of course, it is all about the Pancreas.

Hobbies: Traveling, Cooking, Yoga and Exercise, Dancing

Favorite Vacation Spot: Under the sun and on the beach! The Red Sea!

Favorite Activist: From the past: Martin Luther King, Jr. Through his inspirational leadership and eminent tactics in the 1950s, when he balanced the civil rights for all Americans and sought equality for human rights. Today, the world is in deep need for people like MLK Jr. not only to unite people of color, but moreover to enhance the calling for human rights of all different religions, ethnicities/races and geographic presence. Humans should care for each other and overcome their differences so that peace is spread around the world.

Of the people I am surrounded by, my mother is my favorite activist, as she tirelessly instills these values in us!

Book You Recommend: “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. Every woman and man leader should read it!

Best Career Advice You’ve Received: I had many pearls of wisdom throughout my career, one was by Mitch Cohen, when he gave me the book (Lean In), he told me that leadership is from within, and when you inspire others, they will come join you on your ride! I carry this advice with me: if your team is inspired, they will give passionately.

Another from Lee (Ted) Denson: The people who stand out are the ones who go the extra mile to accomplish their mission. Do not let trivial details derail you from your big purpose. Learn from your mistakes and look for the path forward!

If you have people you’d like to see highlighted for future months, please nominate them by sharing their name and contact information with Eyad and Faith.  They can be any full member of NASPGHAN, CPNP, or APGNN (attendings, RDs, APNs, RNs, PAs). 

Faith Ihekweazu: faith.ihekweazu@bcm.edu
Eyad Hanna (He/They): eyad-hanna@uiowa.edu

February: Black History Month

March: National Women’s History Month // Irish American Heritage Month
April: Arab American Heritage Month
May: Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
June: PRIDE month
September: National Hispanic-Latine/x Heritage Month (Sept 15 to Oct 15) // Women in Medicine Month
October: National Italian American Heritage Month // National Disability Employment Awareness Month
November: National American Indian Heritage Month



The Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nurses
Help & Hope for Children with Digestive Disorders
Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
JPGN Reports