Founding Chair Richard Aghababian Steps Down; Vice Chair Gregory Volturo Appointed New Chair

March 13, 2007

WORCESTER, Mass.— The University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center announced today that Richard V. Aghababian, MD, founding chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, will step down from his position as chair, effective March 31, 2007.  He will be succeeded by Gregory A. Volturo, MD, currently Professor and Vice Chair of Emergency Medicine. 

“Closing one chapter and opening another is for certain a bittersweet moment for us,” said UMMS Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare and UMass Memorial President and CEO John G. O’Brien in a joint statement. “Dr. Aghababian has been a vibrant contributor and guide during a formative period in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Part of the legacy of his leadership is represented in the quality of the faculty he has recruited and developed over his tenure, and we are pleased to be able to announce that Vice Chair Gregory A. Volturo, MD, has accepted the appointment as chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine. We’re confident that Dr. Volturo’s expertise will enhance the development of this important clinical and academic enterprise.” 

A graduate of the School of Medicine’s first class (1974), Dr. Aghababian has served on the UMMS faculty since 1978. He was division director of emergency medicine within the Department of Medicine for nine years before the creation of an independent Department of Emergency Medicine; he became founding chair of the new department in 1994.  

Under his leadership, the Department of Emergency Medicine has grown exponentially in clinical and academic renown, as well as in the technology and services it offers. Originally occupying offices and exam space in a small corner of what was then the University Campus hospital, the department now boasts one of the most sophisticated facilities in the nation with the Duddie Massad Emergency and Trauma Center. Opened in 2006 as a part of UMass Memorial’s Lakeside Wing project, the Center more than tripled the space devoted to emergency services and significantly enhanced the hospital’s capacity to provide care to a dramatically increasing volume of patients.  Initially seeing 2,000 patients each year, the faculty of the Department of Emergency Medicine now cares for more than 165,000 patients annually at UMass Memorial Medical Center, as well as in hospitals across Worcester and central New England.   

The department’s role in emergency medical services, air transport, pre-hospital care and trauma services have helped make emergency care one of the signature services of UMass Memorial, and one of the most influential academic departments in the nation. The nationally respected Emergency Medicine residency program has been a leader in graduate medical education.  Dr. Aghababian will remain as the full-time Associate Dean of Continuing Medical Education for UMMS, a program that influences the training of hundreds of physicians in the region and across the country. 

Dr. Volturo, a 1982 graduate of the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago, trained as a resident in medicine and a fellow in emergency medicine at UMMS. Having served UMMS, UMass Memorial and its member and affiliate hospitals since 1983 in various capacities with increasing responsibility, Dr. Volturo was named associate chair of the department in 1995 and vice chair in 2000.  Over the course of his career, Dr. Volturo has witnessed a number of the hospital mergers that have led to the creation and maturation of UMass Memorial as the region’s preeminent emergency health care provider. During this time, he has developed a particular expertise in emergency department operations in both community and academic settings.  Focusing on patient satisfaction, quality performance and education, he has helped build an emergency department team with a reputation for providing outstanding patient care. 

According to Dr. Lazare and Mr. O’Brien, “As emergency care itself has evolved as a specific discipline with its own specialties and subspecialties, Dr. Volturo has lent his expertise to the community via his role as medical director and consulting physician for several predecessor organizations and local ambulance services. In so doing, Dr. Volturo has been an ambassador to the many communities that rely on us for their care.” 

Dr. Volturo’s academic career has also been long and active. Promoted to full Professor of Emergency Medicine and Medicine in 2004, he has published on topics as diverse as the impact of antibiotic resistance in the emergency department, the management of community-acquired pneumonia and the evaluation of acute coronary syndromes. His area of primary interest and research has been in the development, implementation and outcome of clinical guidelines.  He has lectured widely and has written dozens of textbook chapters, abstracts and periodicals.  He has served as an editor for several emergency medicine texts and as a reviewer for a variety of publications both in and outside of the field of emergency medicine. He is also a member of the editorial boards for several publications in the field of emergency medicine. 


The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $174 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information visit 

UMass Memorial Health Care is Central Massachusetts’ largest not-for-profit health care delivery system, covering the complete health care continuum with UMass Memorial Medical Center, its academic medical center, member and affiliated community hospitals, free-standing primary care practices, ambulatory outpatient clinics, a long-term care facility, home health agencies, hospice programs, a rehabilitation group and mental health services. UMass Memorial is the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Go to for additional information. 

Contact: Alison Duffy, 508-856-2000,