Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Month - A Profile on Fachreza Aryo Damara, MD

May 15, 2024

Fachreza Aryo Damara's, MD, journey to becoming a research fellow at the Cleveland Clinic Department of Vascular Surgery is a personal triumph and a testament to the power of perseverance and the richness of cultural heritage.

Dr. Damara no Background

Born and raised in Indonesia, Damara embarked on his medical journey with determination and a thirst for knowledge. As the first in his family to pursue medicine, he traveled to the United States at the age of 22, driven by a passion to excel in vascular surgery. Despite arriving alone and without family in the U.S., Damara found support in his mentors and peers who would guide him along his path. 

He started his journey as a medical student doing vascular surgery rotations at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Cleveland Clinic. Later, he joined Yale as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy Division for a year and returned to the Cleveland Clinic Vascular Surgery as a research fellow.

"This is my endeavor to become an academic vascular surgeon," said Damara. 

For Damara, honoring his culture is not just a part of his identity; it's a guiding principle in his daily life. The concept of "Gotong royong," or mutual assistance, resonates deeply in Indonesia. With over 1,300 ethnic groups and 700 languages, Indonesia epitomizes diversity, a value that Damara carries with him. He believes in helping others regardless of their background, embodying the spirit of unity in diversity encapsulated by Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika." 

As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month, Damara sees it as an opportunity to recognize the often-overlooked contributions of individuals who have journeyed across continents, overcoming numerous obstacles. It's a time to celebrate resilience, diversity and the shared humanity that binds us all. 

In advocating for increased awareness and representation, Damara emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the work of AAPI individuals in medicine and beyond. By fostering a culture of inclusion and support, he believes we can unite in diversity and work towards a more equitable future for all. 

"Throughout the years, I have received countless emails from graduates and students worldwide seeking advice to get where I am today. Even though I am still far from where I aspire to be, I am forever grateful that my culture fosters a strong and persistent mentor-mentee relationship," said Damara. 

Damara's dedication to vascular surgery extends beyond his achievements. He recognizes the critical importance of representation in medicine and vascular surgery, particularly in clinical trials. Committed to enhancing diversity and cultural competence, Damara seeks to bridge gaps and build trust within underrepresented communities, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued. 

"Many cohorts in medicine and vascular surgery clinical trials do not represent a proportionate representation of ethnic groups," Damara explained. "This compromises the generalizability of the study results in which some groups may pose different effects from a specific intervention. Based on the upcoming publication of our study here at the Cleveland Clinic, one cause of this lack of representation is low trust in clinical trials among underrepresented minority patients. Enhancing diversity and representation of research staff, coordinators and principal investigators is critical to elevating cultural competence and gaining trust from groups of patients who are frequently overlooked." 

Reflecting on Damara's journey and the broader significance of AAPI Month, we also consider how we can support the next generation of vascular surgeons. By making a gift to the SVS Foundation, we can strengthen leadership and mentorship programs, empowering aspiring surgeons to follow in Damara's footsteps and make their mark on vascular surgery.

When you donate to the SVS Foundation, you support Voices of Vascular's important work in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn more and make your gift today.  

Related Articles