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$5M Hand Surgery Gift Creating the Jabaley-Songcharoen Center, Songcharoen Chair At UMMC
From left, Dr. Somprasong Songcharoen, Dr. Suthin Songcharoen, Mary Jabaley and Dr. Marc Walker celebrate the creation of the Jabaley-Songcharoen Center for Hand, Upper Extremity and Nerve Surgery.

Hand surgery care, research, education and collaboration among medical experts from around the world will expand at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, thanks to a $5 million gift from Drs. Suthin and Somprasong Songcharoen.

Dr. Marc Walker, who was awarded the Songcharoen Endowed Chair of Plastic and Reconstructive Hand Surgery, will lead the Jabaley-Songcharoen Center for Hand, Upper Extremity and Nerve Surgery.

Serving children and adult patients, the Jabaley-Songcharoen Center for Hand, Upper Extremity and Nerve Surgery will facilitate the treatment of the entire breadth of hand conditions. From treating carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis to broken bones and cut tendons to birth differences such as extra or absent digits, board-certified surgeons and therapists will offer the highest quality and most advanced level of hand surgery care to all patients in a way customized to each person’s specific needs.

The Songcharoens’ gift creates both the center and the Songcharoen Endowed Chair of Plastic and Reconstructive Hand Surgery.

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs, said the Songcharoens’ generous gift will make a lasting impact on UMMC and the patients it serves.

“Through the creation of this center, UMMC will be able to advance its three-part mission of health care, education and research in hand surgery and care. This opens the door for the Medical Center to influence treatment and scientific discovery involving hand conditions in Mississippi and the world,” she said. “We are honored by this commitment to the institution and grateful for their support.”

Dr. Marc Walker, associate professor of plastic surgery and orthopaedic surgery, will lead the center as the Songcharoen Chair.

“This transformational gift is a testament to the Songcharoens’ commitment to advancing hand surgery care for patients as well as to their trust and confidence in the University of Mississippi Medical Center to carry this mission forward in perpetuity,” Walker said. “I am incredibly honored and proud to be a part of such an amazing new chapter in hand surgery for our community and at UMMC.”

The inspiration for the center is two-fold, said Dr. Somprasong Songcharoen. “We wanted to establish the center at UMMC to honor the memory of Dr. Michael (Mike) Jabaley, my great teacher, co-faculty member, friend and partner, with whom I trained residents in hand surgery at the university and cared for Mississippians across the state. Secondly, in our early days as hand surgeons, we had a vision for expanding the breadth of hand surgery in Mississippi to include world-class teaching, education, research and hand surgery innovation. I wanted to see this become a reality in my lifetime.”

Jabaley, an internationally recognized expert in hand surgery, died July 12, 2022, on his 88th birthday.

Best known for his work in Dupuytren’s contracture and carpal tunnel surgery, Jabaley earned a medical degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He completed a residency in general surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and then a residency in plastic surgery at Johns Hopkins, where he later served as an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and plastic surgery.

Dr. Louann Woodward

Jabaley also held plastic surgery visiting professorships at Harvard University, Stanford University, Ochsner Medical Center, Columbia University, Duke University and Vanderbilt University. In 1972, Jabaley was recruited by Dr. James Hardy to serve as chief of plastic surgery at UMMC. Together, he, Dr. Alan Freeland and Dr. Somprasong Songcharoen led the early effort in hand surgery in Mississippi. Jabaley left the Medical Center in 1979 to go into private practice.

Throughout his career, Jabaley produced almost 100 scientific papers. He received the Robert H. Ivy Society Award in 1976 for the best scientific paper from the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons and the Clinician and Teacher of the Year Award in 2002 by the American Association of Hand Surgeons. Dr. Jabaley also served as vice president of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, president of the American Society of Surgery of the Hand, president of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons and president of the Sunderland Society, a peripheral nerve study group.

“Mike and I met in Maryland, where he was on the plastic surgery faculty at Johns Hopkins Hospital and where I was a general surgery resident at the University of Maryland,” Songcharoen said. “We both shared the common interest of becoming hand surgeons, and ultimately, Mike recruited me to Mississippi for plastic surgery training. We both stayed in Mississippi and developed hand surgery practices together while sharing the dream of this center.”

Mary Jabaley said the Songcharoens’ gift is a touching memorial to her late husband.

“Our family is so grateful to Su and Song for their friendship, vision and generosity,” she said. “The patient care and the medical advances this Center will make possible will be an enduring legacy that honors Mike’s life-long work.”

Songcharoen earned his medical degree at Mahidol University at Siriraj Hospital in Thailand. He completed his surgical residency at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and a fellowship in hand surgery at Grace Hospital in Detroit. He completed his residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery at UMMC.

Recognized for his surgical expertise for decades, Songcharoen has served as a clinical professor of plastic surgery and the first program director of hand surgery fellowships in the Division of Plastic Surgery at UMMC. Songcharoen has also served as chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Jackson, chief of staff at HealthSouth Surgicare of Jackson and chief of plastic surgery at St. Dominic. Songcharoen also leads his own private practice, Mississippi Premier Plastic Surgery, which serves patients throughout the state.

Throughout his career, Songcharoen has been committed to the education of the next generation of hand surgeons in Mississippi. His ongoing relationship with UMMC has provided residents with opportunities to learn from and work alongside physicians in his private practice. In 1996, he was awarded the first Vargas International Hand Therapist Teaching Award by the American Association for Hand Surgery. Dr. Songcharoen also serves as a visiting professor of plastic and hand surgery at Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital in Thailand.

Walker looks to a video of NFL great Eli Manning hailing the launch of the Jabaley-Songcharoen Center for Hand, Upper Extremity and Nerve Surgery.

Dr. Suthin Songcharoen, who earned her medical degree at Mahidol University at Siriraj Hospital in Thailand, is an expert in rheumatology. After interning at Siriraj Hospital, Songcharoen began residency at Grace Hospital in Detroit, Michigan and completed residency at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore. She then completed a fellowship in rheumatology at the VA Medical Center affiliated with the University of Maryland in Baltimore. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology.

In 1978, after serving as chief of rheumatology at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson and as a clinical associate professor of medicine and interim chief of rheumatology at UMMC, she established her own rheumatology practice, Arthritis and Osteoporosis Treatment and Research Center, now known as Mississippi Rheumatology Osteoporosis Center.

The Songcharoens, who met in medical school as classmates and married before relocating to the United States, are the parents of three children: 1991 UM graduate Marisa Davidson, a health care executive; Marci Songcharoen, an architect in London; and Dr. Jay Songcharoen, a plastic and hand surgeon at Mississippi Premier Plastic Surgery in Madison.

When discussing this transformative gift, Songcharoen expressed the importance of helping others and referenced the famous quote often attributed to Winston Churchill – you make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.

At a recent celebration to honor the Songcharoens’ generous gift and the appointment of Walker as the chair, former New York Giant quarterback and long-time supporter of UMMC, Eli Manning, virtually greeted guests with a special message of thanks.

“I’m so thrilled about the newly established Jabaley-Songcharoen Center for Hand, Upper Extremity and Nerve Surgery,” he said. “This collaboration between plastic surgery and orthopaedic surgery will forever impact both adult and pediatric patients. From sports injuries to congenital differences to trauma, UMMC will be the leader in treating the most complex hand, upper extremity and nerve cases in Mississippi, ensuring that all Mississippians have access to the most advanced care close to home.

Walker is a graduate of Harvard Medical School. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School after graduating from the University of Mississippi summa cum laude with a BS in biological sciences, minoring in chemistry, religion and philosophy.

He completed his post-doctoral training at Yale University School of Medicine, where he was an associate research scientist in plastic surgery. He was also chief resident in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Yale and completed fellowship training in hand and microsurgery there.

Walker said the Jabaley-Songcharoen Center for Hand, Upper Extremity and Nerve Surgery will usher in advancements in care.

“The Jabaley-Songcharoen Center for Hand, Upper Extremity and Nerve Surgery will launch UMMC into a new and exciting era of caring for hand patients in Mississippi,” Walker said. “This truly transformational gift establishes the first, multidisciplinary clinical collaboration of its kind at the University, and will serve as a beacon for hand surgery regionally, nationally and internationally.”

That goal is shared by Songcharoen. “I would like to see hand surgery delivered in a thoughtful and supported way at the very highest of levels in Mississippi,” he said.

In addition to this clinical mission, the center will also support an expansive effort in hand surgery education, research and innovation.

“In a multidisciplinary setting including plastic surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, certified hand therapists and all affiliated health care professionals, I believe fostering the exchange of ideas and expanding our education can only lead to success,” Songcharoen said.

The center will become a hub for educational opportunities, Walker said.

“With two hand surgery fellowship training positions and a newly initiated international hand surgeon educational exchange program, the center will continue training the next generation of hand surgeons in Mississippi, while also teaching and learning from visiting hand surgeons from around the world.”

The commitment to continuing education of Jabaley and Songcharoen is shared among surgeons, he said.

“I believe that all surgeons who have a love for teaching also have a passion for continuous learning for the betterment of our patients. The establishment of the Jabaley-Songcharoen Center for Hand, Upper Extremity and Nerve Surgery at UMMC will create a collaborative home for this type of exchange of ideas both here at home and abroad.”

To support the Jabaley-Songcharoen Center for Hand, Upper Extremity and Nerve Surgery contact Suzanne Crell, major gifts officer, at 601-815-8778 or

By Annie Oeth/UMMC Public Affairs


Online gifts for the 2024 calendar year should be made no later than noon on December 31, 2024.  Checks by mail will need to be postmarked by December 31 to be counted in the 2024 calendar year.