Paying Attention to the Details

By Elizabeth Walker | September 3 2019

For Omar Rayes, MD, accepting a faculty position in Michigan feels like coming home. Born in Damascus, Syria, Rayes moved to Cincinnati after medical school. He did a year of research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital before embracing life in Michigan during his four-year AP/CP residency at Henry Ford in Detroit. After a year-long fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin, he’s back and is one of the newest faculty members, along with Dr. Milad Webb, at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Rayes enjoys camping, hiking, biking, photography and observing nature with his binoculars, telescope, and camera.  “Part of our job is observing changes to the organs and noticing any abnormalities. Paying attention to little details. Sometimes you can spot similarities between nature and the human body,” he explains, adding that he sees parallels in the branches of trees and branching blood vessels.

Rayes’ mother practices internal medicine and his father is a surgical pathologist. He first watched his father perform a fetal autopsy when he was in the 6th grade. He became fascinated by anatomy and how the brain forms and then other organs follow. “It's very impressive that we all share the same anatomy. No matter how different we look, we're all made of the same exact structures or organs,” Rayes says. During medical school, he found himself drawn to cutting and grossing and, after rotating through several specialties, decided that a career in pathology would be a perfect fit.

With a special interest in pediatric sudden deaths and patterned injury analysis, Rayes has publication as a top priority and is excited to join an institution that supports research. He looks forward to testifying in court because it allows him to be a voice for victims of homicide and also values the opportunity to communicate with patient families, saying it plays a major role in their well-being and recovery after their person’s death. “Coming from a different part of the world makes it sometimes easier for me to understand the challenges that some people have in their lives,” Rayes reflects. He says he better appreciates how people of different colors, ethnicities, and religions all live and work together in Michigan. “It's really impressive to see unity and people working at different places from different backgrounds and doing great work.”