Major new hires in 2014

January 09, 2014

The new year has barely begun, but we already have much to celebrate in 2014.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of announcing that Robert Simari will be KU School of Medicine's new executive dean. He'll begin those duties on March 24. The announcement capped nearly a year-long search. I'm especially grateful to the 18 members of the search committee, chaired by Rick Barohn, for their thorough and comprehensive process - a process that included hundreds of you from all of our campuses who met with the three finalists and attended their town hall meetings.

As I wrote in the announcement, Dr. Simari is an accomplished clinician and researcher who has served in several leadership roles at the Mayo Clinic. He brings a diverse set of skills and a record of innovation to his new position. He has served as the vice chair of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and as co-director of the Mayo Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences and dean of clinical and translational research. He has also been a course director, lecturer and tutorial director in the Mayo Graduate School, and has mentored dozens of postdoctoral and undergraduate fellows.

Dr. Simari completed his residency at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, then went to the Mayo Clinic to train as a fellow in cardiovascular diseases and interventional cardiology. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., at the University of Michigan prior to joining the Mayo faculty.

But I wouldn't be too biased if I said the best thing about Dr. Simari's background is that he earned his medical degree from the KU School of Medicine. A 1986 graduate of our program, he says the School of Medicine he remembers "no longer exists," having "undergone one of the most impressive trajectories in academic medicine." Dr. Simari's experience puts him in a unique position to see how far the KU School of Medicine has come in the last two decades - and to inspire us to continue that trajectory.

Other big news this week was the announcement that Michael Artman, pediatrician-in-chief and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Children's Mercy Hospital, will take over as chair of our Department of Pediatrics in Kansas City. This marked a significant milestone in an effort we announced in December 2012 to work with Children's Mercy and The University of Kansas Hospital to develop a single, integrated pediatric program. Integration teams from all organizations have been working toward that goal over the last year, and Dr. Artman's appointment completes the first phase of that integration. Months of hard work still remain before our departments are fully integrated, so I'm grateful to everyone who has dedicated their time and talents to this exciting but complex effort. And I'm particularly grateful to Chet Johnson, who has chaired our Department of Pediatrics since 2004. He will begin a new role as KU Medical Center Assistant Dean of Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development, concentrating on successful onboarding of new faculty from Children's Mercy and elsewhere, and supporting faculty mentoring, faculty development in medical education, faculty governance, and promotion and tenure.

We anticipate more exciting announcements in the months ahead. We have been interviewing final candidates for chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine-Wichita. In Kansas City we have been interviewing candidates for three leadership roles: chair of our Department of Surgery; chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; and Vice Chancellor for Finance, a new position we began to think about as a result of our financial reorganization efforts beginning in late 2012.

Our various search committees have been extremely busy over the last few months, and I'm grateful to all who have served. It's clearly a dynamic time at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and it's exciting to think about how our campuses will continue to grow with the changes ahead.

Meanwhile, thanks to everyone for a great start to 2014 - one befitting to our great institution. Happy New Year!

Last modified: Jan 09, 2014