Bassam A. Bassam, MD, Receives AANEM’s 2023 Distinguished Physician Award

Published August 02, 2023

Bassam A. Bassam, MD, has been awarded AANEM’s 2023 Distinguished Physician Award for his exceptional contributions to patient care, research, and education in the fields of NM and EDX medicine. This prestigious award honors AANEM members who have provided distinguished service as a clinician and/or educator and been an active supporter of AANEM activities.

Dr. Bassam’s journey in medicine began at Aleppo University in Syria, where he completed his medical degree. He went on to pursue a neurology residency at Wayne State University (WSU) and a NM fellowship at WSU and Mayo Clinic.

After completing his training, Dr. Bassam was soon appointed as the director of neurology at Wayne County General Hospital, affiliated with the University of Michigan. Dr. Bassam has been a tenured professor of neurology and director of the EMG & NM disease laboratory since 1985, and briefly served as interim chairman for the neurology department at the University of South Alabama.

Dr. Bassam developed a passion for NM medicine early in his career, due to what he saw as unmet goals in the field, and has found professional satisfaction across clinical, research, and educational work. “I have found that direct care of patients with NMDs is the best way for understanding illness, motivating research, and advancing the field,” he said. He is proud of the more than 100 residents he has trained and the impact they have gone on to make in academic and clinical practice. “I’ve found that my educational contributions through the past decades are very motivating and satisfying to my career dedication.”

Receiving AANEM’s achievement award stands as one of Dr. Bassam’s most cherished career accomplishment thus far. Reflecting on the significance, he shared, “I am most proud of receiving this Distinguished Physician Award from the top organization of my specialty, an attestation of my accomplishments in NM and EDX medicine.”

His best advice to those early in their careers is to remember that any thousand-mile trip starts with one single step. “I vividly recall inviting a currently very prominent academic neurologist for a very first national presentation.” He added, “My advice to those who are interested in NM and EDX medicine is to join AANEM, seek the opportunity to join AANEM committees, and attend and contribute to the AANEM Annual Meetings to keep up with advances in NM and EDX medicine.”

Dr. Bassam has been an active member of AANEM since 1981. He has served on the AANEM Annual Meeting Coordination, CME Advisory, Education, EDX Self-Assessment Exam, Long Range SIG Planning, NM Update Course, and Workshop committees, as well as the ABEM Examination Committee. Dr. Bassam currently serves on the AANEM Connect Committee, answering questions and offering advice through AANEM’s member-only discussion forum.

“My involvement with AANEM has been an indispensable opportunity that’s shaped my career in NM and EDX medicine, for both academic achievements and quality patient care,” Dr. Bassam said. “I am very thankful and appreciative of the great job and continuous effort of all the AANEM staff that has helped AANEM to remain our top NM and EDX medicine association.”

As an active member of AANEM, Dr. Bassam has many fond memories. Among them are winning a contest to imitate every EMG waveform sound at an EMG talk session; attending an ABEM Board Examination Committee meeting at the Hershey Hotel, surrounded by chocolate; and enjoying a wonderful musical performance in Kansas City at one of the AANEM Annual Meetings. “My most favorable memories are through opportunities to meet and socialize with colleagues, friends, and AANEM staff, particularly Shirlyn Adkins and her great sense of humor.”

Throughout his career, Dr. Bassam benefited greatly from collaborations and mentorship experiences. These include through preparation and research prior to presentations, engaging with fellow members of various AANEM committees, and learning from esteemed thought leaders at AANEM Annual Meetings. He credits individuals such as Drs. Donald Sanders, James Alberts, Jasper Daube, Jun Kimura, Erik Stålberg, Daniel Dumitru, and Thomas Swift, among others, as being particularly motivating in shaping his career.

Receiving the AANEM Distinguished Physician Award has left Dr. Bassam feeling honored and thankful. He said this recognition signifies the appreciation of his contributions to AANEM’s mission throughout his 41-year career. “Professionally it feels a great and everlasting attestation award of my professional and scholarly achievements by the top national organization of my specialty that made me very proud among my AANEM colleagues, my friends, and at my institution.”