Renowned surgeon, researcher, educator to support pediatric specialty services at Piedmont Columbus

COLUMBUS – Renowned pediatric surgeon, researcher and medical educator Don Nakayama, M.D., MBA, has been appointed senior associate dean of Mercer University School of Medicine’s Columbus campus and medical director of pediatric surgery at Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital, effective Dec. 1.

Dr. Nakayama comes to Columbus from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he most recently served as a clinical professor in the Department of Surgery.

He will provide leadership for Mercer’s medical campus, which opened its new facility earlier this year and is in the process of increasing enrollment to match the school’s other campuses in Macon and Savannah.

“Mercer University School of Medicine’s mission is to improve health and bring care to underserved rural Georgia. No one embodies the heart of that mission more than Dr. Don Nakayama,” said Jean Sumner, M.D., FACP, dean of the School of Medicine. “We, along with Piedmont Columbus, are delighted to welcome Dr. and Mrs. Nakayama to Columbus. We are honored to work with Piedmont Columbus to bring needed care to this region. Dr. Nakayama, professor of surgery, will assume the campus dean position for the Columbus campus. Dr. Maurice Solis was instrumental in his recruitment and will remain a strong and valued member of our faculty.”

“From working closely with Dr. Nakayama when he was chairman of the surgery residency program in Macon, I know firsthand his leadership abilities, passion for teaching and skill as a pediatric surgeon,” added Dr. Solis. “It is very exciting that he will now be part of the Columbus campus and medical community, and I am extremely pleased to be able to work with him once again.”

Dr. Nakayama will also practice at Piedmont Columbus, where he will help support development of pediatric specialty services.

“We are pleased and extremely fortunate to welcome Dr. Nakayama and his wife Natalie to Columbus. As the medical director of pediatric surgery, he will lead the development of the Pediatric Surgery program at the Children’s Hospital at Piedmont Columbus Midtown,” said Scott Hill, CEO of Piedmont Columbus Regional. “Dr. Nakayama is nationally known and respected and has a track record of successfully developing pediatric surgery programs around the country. This joint recruitment will continue to strengthen our ongoing partnership with the Mercer School of Medicine, and we are excited to start working with Dr. Nakayama to bring pediatric surgical services to the greater Columbus region that will allow our children to be treated right here close to home.”

Dr. Nakayama’s career spans more than three decades, beginning in 1978 upon earning his M.D. and going on to a residency in general surgery and research fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.

He completed a postgraduate fellowship in pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before accepting his first faculty appointment as assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in 1986.

Dr. Nakayama would go on to faculty and leadership positions at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Mercer University School of Medicine and West Virginia University School of Medicine.

He has held leadership positions including surgeon-in-chief for North Carolina Children’s Hospital, director of the general surgery residency program for The Medical Center of Central Georgia (now Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center) and chair of the Department of Surgery at both Mercer and the University of West Virginia.

“I am privileged to serve the missions of patient care and medical education as the regional dean of the Columbus campus of Mercer University School of Medicine,” said Dr. Nakayama. “My goal is to continue the tradition of service and cooperation among the School of Medicine, the Piedmont Columbus Regional Midtown Campus, St. Francis Hospital and the medical community to bring the vitality of academic medicine to the people of Columbus and the rural communities of western, central and south Georgia that we serve.”

Dr. Nakayama is editor of Black Surgeons and Surgery in America (American College of Surgeons, 2021), co-author of Saving Lifetimes: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the American Pediatric Surgical Association (American Pediatric Surgical Association, 2019), associate editor of Principles of Pediatric Surgery (Mosby, 2003), co-editor of Critical Care of the Surgical Newborn (Futura, 1997) and author of Atlas of Pediatric Surgery (Gower, 1991). Additionally, he is an author or co-author on more than 200 refereed journal articles and has contributed dozens of book chapters, lectures, reviews, abstracts and conference presentations.

He is currently editor-in-chief of The American Surgeon, assistant editor of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery and serves on the editorial board of Annals of Surgery Open: Perspectives on Surgical History, Education and Clinical Approaches.

Dr. Nakayama has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health, Samuel and Emma Winters Foundation and American Cancer Society, among other organizations.

He is a member of the Southern Surgical Association, Southeastern Surgical Congress, American Surgical Association, Society of University Surgeons, American Pediatric Surgical Association and American Board of Surgery, as well as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, which he also serves as treasurer.

Dr. Nakayama earned his Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Stanford University and also holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business.

About Piedmont Healthcare

Piedmont is empowering Georgians by changing health care. We continue to fuel Georgia’s growth through safe, high-quality care close to home – an integrated health care system that provides a hassle-free, unified experience. Every year, we have over 30 million visits to, more than 450,000 appointments scheduled online by patients and over 100,000 virtual visits. We are a private, not-for-profit organization that for centuries has lived up to our purpose to make a positive difference in every life we touch in the communities we serve. Today our organization is supported by a work force of more than 37,000 who care for 3.4 million patients across 1,400 locations and serving communities that comprise 80 percent of Georgia’s population. This includes 22 hospitals, including three inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, 65 Piedmont Urgent Care centers, 25 QuickCare locations, 1,875 Piedmont Clinic physician practices and more than 2,800 Piedmont Clinic members. Piedmont has provided $1.4 billion in uncompensated care and community benefit programming to the communities we serve over the past five years. In 2022, Forbes ranked us No. 166 on its list of the Best Large Employers in the United States. In 2021, the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit that rates hospitals on safety, awarded Piedmont more A grades than any system in Georgia. For more information, or book your next appointment, visit

About Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened additional four-year M.D. campuses in Savannah in 2008 and in Columbus in 2021. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School’s primary teaching hospitals: Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center and Piedmont Macon Medical Center in Macon; Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis-Emory Healthcare in Columbus. The School also offers master’s degrees in preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences and a Ph.D. in rural health sciences in Macon and a master’s degree in family therapy in Macon and Atlanta.