Dolores “Dee” Tamer, M.D., a nationally recognized pediatric cardiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, died August 13 at the age of 86. A faculty member for more than 45 years, she trained several generations of medical students, residents and fellows, while conducting leading-edge research, and working to improve health services for underprivileged children throughout Miami-Dade County.
“Dee Tamer was a caring, compassionate physician who helped bring modern cardiology to South Florida,” said Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A., professor and chair, Department of Pediatrics; chief of service, Holtz Children's Hospital; and The George E. Batchelor Endowed Chair in Child Health. “Nothing deterred her in the pursuit of better health care for children in our community.”
Advancing interventional cardiology
A pioneer in her field, Dr. Tamer in 1970 performed South Florida’s first balloon septostomy in transposed great arteries to correct a life-threatening congenital heart defect, as well as the first pulmonary balloon valvularplasty in Florida in the late 1970s, repairing a defective heart valve.
Early in her career, Dr. Tamer became only the second female pediatric interventional cardiologist in the nation, according to her longtime colleague Satinder “Neena” Sandhu, M.D., professor of pediatric cardiology.
“Dee was an incredible interventional cardiologist, who opened the door for the rest of us,” Dr. Sandhu said. “She was also an amazing cook, an avid gardener and a devoted mother, who was very proud to raise their sons Nabil and Samir. She was my best friend, and I will miss her dearly.”
Dr. Tamer was the “ultimate academic pediatric cardiologist,” said Henry Gelband, M.D., who worked with her for 40 years. “She trained when listening was the primary means to diagnose congenital and acquired heart disease, and she became a master in her field. She was a compassionate physician hugging parents in tragic times and being able to smile and laugh in good times.”
Gaining extensive medical training
Dr. Tamer grew up in Buffalo and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and her medical degree at the University of Buffalo. She completed an internship at Philadelphia General Hospital, followed by residencies and post-doctoral fellowships at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.
In the 1960s, she received a post-doctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the experimental development and clinical trial of an artificial lung — decades ahead of the medical technology field. She also completed a National Heart Institute student fellowship at the University of Buffalo’s Department of Pharmacology.
A notable career
Dr. Tamer joined the Miller School faculty in 1967 as an instructor in pediatrics, and she served as director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory from 1973 to 1982. A year later, she was promoted to professor, and continued to teach until she retired in 2013. Her husband, Akram Tamer, M.D., professor of pediatrics, is still active on the Miller School faculty and was recognized in 2019 with the creation of the Dr. Akram Tamer Journal Club.
In 1976, Dr. Tamer became medical director for Children’s Medical Services’ District XI in Miami and served in that role for more than 30 years.
“Dee was dedicated to ensuring that children with chronic conditions could receive quality care, regardless of their background of economic circumstances,” Dr. Schaechter said.
Dr. Tamer also was an exceptional educator, who trained hundreds of medical students through the decades.
“She had a knack for describing the salient features of a case confidently yet concisely, making her opinion known decisively,” said Barry Gelman, M.D., M.Ed., associate professor of pediatrics and chief medical officer at Holtz Children’s Hospital. “It was always obvious how much the fellows and residents and students admired and respected her. Her teaching was effortless, and easily digestible — a few sentences here, a couple of pearls there, consensus on the plan, and then on to the next patient. She was an old-fashioned doctor and a scholarly subspecialist — all rolled into one.”
Throughout her career, Dr. Tamer was an active researcher, and wrote or contributed to more than 100 peer-reviewed articles. She was also a referral reviewer for the American Heart Journal. She served as president of the Florida Association of Pediatric Cardiologists from 1980 to 1982 and was a member of the American College of Cardiology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association and other organizations.
Dr. Tamer is survived by her husband, sons and three grandchildren. Services were pending.