Fall 2015
School of Medicine Suffers Loss of Two Chairmen

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Dr. William A. Zamboni.

Remembering: Zamboni, pictured, and Pari made lasting impressions on their respective departments and the medical school. Photo by Dave Smith.

Zamboni, Pari Remembered for Their Contributions

Story by Anne McMillin, APR

The School of Medicine unexpectedly lost two departmental chairmen this summer.

William A. Zamboni, M.D.'84, professor and chair of surgery, passed away July 11, 2015 after a brief illness.

A driving force at this institution and widely respected in Las Vegas, across Nevada and the U.S., Zamboni served as chair of the Department of Surgery since 2002. He was president of the Las Vegas faculty practice plan for eight years and guided it through economic turmoil and recovery. As part of his role, he also held the title of associate dean for clinical affairs.

His medical school colleagues remember him as a great champion of the school in Las Vegas. He was committed to advancing the reputation and building programs of excellence and quality in southern Nevada. He recruited outstanding residents, fellows and faculty members and was a strong and committed mentor. He was most happy in the operating room, where he was able to practice his profession for the benefit of his patients, while growing the prestige of the surgery training programs.

Originally from Reno, Zamboni also left an impact in northern Nevada, long before he became a surgeon. Alex Flangas, a high school classmate and football teammate of Zamboni's at Bishop Manogue High School, remembers him as a terrific inspiration on and off the gridiron.

"He was a great athlete, a fast and strong football player. He was smaller than me, but could out-lift me in the gym. He always pushed me to be a better athlete," Flangas remembered.

"'Billy Z' pushed me harder than anyone else, and it paid off. I really do think that it was because of training with Billy every other day that summer of 1975 before formal practice started, that I got to where I was a pretty solid player. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't quite catch him on speed or strength that summer," Flangas said.

A 1980 alumnus of the University of Nevada, Reno, Zamboni attended the University of Nevada School of Medicine, graduating in 1984, before completing residency training at Southern Illinois University in general and plastic surgery.

In addition to his substantial teaching, research and leadership responsibilities, the board-certified plastic surgeon maintained a busy clinical practice. His areas of expertise included facial rejuvenation, blepharoplasty, and fat grafting, but also ischemic-reperfusion injury and traumatic amputation reattachment. He held appointments at numerous Las Vegas area hospitals and surgical centers including University Medical Center, Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, Sahara Surgery Center, Valley View Surgical Center, Boulder City Hospital, Health South Rehab Hospital and Las Vegas Surgical Center.

Greg Pari, Ph.D., professor and chair of microbiology and immunology, died suddenly on May 3, 2015 at the age of 54, from coronary artery disease.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Pari received his undergraduate degree in molecular cellular and developmental biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1985. His work with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) began that same year in the laboratory of Stephen St. Jeor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He completed his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology in 1990.

Prior to coming to the University, Pari worked as a senior research scientist and director of virology at Hybridon, Inc., where his work focused on the design and preclinical testing for potent antisense inhibitors of HCMV. Pari joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the School of Medicine in 1999 and became department chair 2010. He served as director of the cell and molecular biology graduate program from 2005 to 2010.

In addition to his research achievements, Pari was instrumental to the creation of a molecular microbiology and immunology undergraduate degree in partnership with the College of Science at the University.

His impetus for doing so was learning that Nevada was one of only two states that did not offer an undergraduate degree in microbiology.

Pari maintained an active research laboratory and was awarded NIH grants to study both HCMV and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). His most recent studies focused on HCMV and KSHV lytic and latent DNA replication and the function of viral long non-coding RNAs.

Michelle Whitaker, the department's administrative assistant, remembers his sense of humor and bantering. "No matter what any of us had for lunch, it was always the same comment from him: ‘Who's eating onions, I smell onions!'"

Professor Dorothy Hudig described her chair as: "Vibrant, assertive, and man enough to paint one wall of his office lilac without thinking about it."

Pari's associates in the department remember him as a visionary. He took particular interest in the success of his students, telling them that dedication and persistence were more important than being the smartest person in the room. He was effective, approachable and was always there for advice and suggestions whenever needed.