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56 Robert WoodJohnson
s a student at Robert Wood John-
son Medical School, Dr. Perret
weighed her interests in physiatry, mus-
culoskeletal medicine, spinal and brain
injury, and palliative care. She wanted
to commit to a field where there was
broad clinical need and where her skills
and empathy would be valuable to peo-
ple at their most difficult moments.
When she discovered PM&R on a clin-
ical rotation at the JFK Johnson Rehab-
ilitation Institute at JFK Medical Center,
in Edison, she realized that by training
in the specialty, as an interventional
physiatrist, she would be able combine
her clinical goals.
During the rotation, she met Sara
Cuccurullo, MD, now clinical profes-
sor, medical director, and chair, Depart-
ment of Physical Medicine and Rehab-
ilitation, Robert Wood Johnson
Medical School. Dr. Cuccurullo has
become a valued mentor, colleague, and
close friend. "It's the most intimate spe-
cialty," says Dr. Perret. "We all know
and support each other."
After her residency at Mount Sinai
Medical Center, in Manhattan, where
she served as chief resident, Dr. Perret
completed a fellowship in the pain
medicine program at UCI. A subsequent
faculty appointment would include
teaching in the very fellowship pro-
gram she had just completed. "I'd
planned on staying in academics, but
when this opportunity came along, I
couldn't resist the challenge," she says.
Fortunately, she has a gift not only for
patient care but also for curriculum
and competency development, because
Dr. Perret was almost immediately
appointed fellowship director, amid
infrastructure problems and faculty
By 2013, she had reorganized and
invigorated the program. A year later, it
received full accreditation, earning
"good or better" assessments in all re-
quired competencies of the Accredita-
tion Council for Graduate Medical
Education (ACGME). Having similarly
assisted with program development for
UCI's PM&R residency program, Dr.
Perret was garnering success in
improvement strategy for the graduate
medical education program. Dr. Perret's
anielle Perret Karimi, MD '03, is a young
alumna in one of medicine's newest special-
ties: physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). She is also a
remarkably young rising star in academic medicine, appointed in
2014 to serve as associate dean for graduate medical education at
the School of Medicine at University of California, Irvine (UCI).
In this position, she is responsible for the institutional accredita-
tion of 55 graduate medical education programs for almost 700
residents and fellows. A specialist in PM&R and pain medicine,
Dr. Perret holds her primary appointment at UCI as associate
clinical professor in the Department of Physical Medicine &
Rehabilitation, with a secondary appointment in neurosurgery.
Danielle Perret Karimi, MD '03:
A Star with a Heart
K A T E O ' N E I L L