Welcome to the winter 2017 edition of Academic Matters, the e-newsletter of the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.
I started at COMJ and UF Health on Jan. 4. I had to ask for my first day to be delayed so I could attend the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, where I had one son playing football for Penn State and another son serving as student football manager for Southern Cal. Now we’re at the end of 2017, and Southern Cal is set to take on Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl and Penn State will play Washington in the Fiesta Bowl. But more importantly, I celebrate the graduation of my Penn Stater.
Since January, it has been an amazing experience on our campus — learning about UF Health, UFJP and the colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy; meeting great people; opening the UF Health North bed tower; winning the bid for the Wildlight proposal; and for me, getting to know the city of Jacksonville. I thank everyone for their warm welcome and look forward to our great future.
Speaking of the future: In September, UF Health Jacksonville’s board of directors selected me to be the hospital’s next CEO, a role I begin in January. I will retain my roles as college dean and UF’s vice president for health affairs.
I am both humbled and excited about the opportunity and thank the board for its faith in me. But more importantly, I have faith in each of you as we collectively work to make UF Health Jacksonville the region’s most valuable health care asset with our combined strengths from the hospitals, practice plan and three colleges.
My only degree of sadness is that we will say goodbye to Russ Armistead, Bill Ryan and Penny Thompson, who are all retiring. Their nearly 50 years of cumulative wisdom about this institution will surely be missed.
Building the leadership team
I am pleased to announce the new chair of radiology will be Chandana “Sandy” Lall, M.D., M.B.A. She comes from the University of California, Irvine, where she has served as a professor of radiological sciences and chief of abdominal imaging, a clinical specialty of hers. Lall will officially join us in May 2018, but will visit the campus frequently beginning in January. We are excited to welcome her and I want to give my personal thanks to Paul Wasserman, D.O., for serving as interim chair.
Recruitment for chairs of ophthalmology and urology and senior associate dean for research is nearing a close, while the searches for chairs of anesthesiology, neurosurgery, and obstetrics and gynecology are just getting started.
Addressing the tri-part academic mission
Since our last newsletter, I am proud to announce three major research grants were awarded to faculty fund projects on the Jacksonville campus. The first is a $3.6 million award from the National Institutes of Health to develop a state-of-the art clinical translational research facility for multidisciplinary research on aging. It will be known as the Jacksonville Aging Studies Center, or JAX-ASCENT. Led by Marco Pahor, M.D., from Gainesville, this project will operate out of the renovated second floor of our Professional Office Building. Researchers from either UF campus or any other college will be able to develop projects for the center.
The second award, $2.2 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was awarded to Nipa Shah, M.D., chair of community health and family medicine, to study the use of telemedicine to improve HIV care among minorities in urban areas. The third project — for which Shah will serve as co-principal investigator alongside Gainesville’s Carolyn Tucker, Ph.D. — is a $2 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study obesity among black women.
Congratulations to everyone, especially as we continue to develop our research portfolio on the Jacksonville campus.
Creating strategic alliances
Finally, thanks to Penny Thompson, I recently traveled to Canada with more than 130 other Jacksonville business leaders to learn from leaders in Toronto about how they’ve developed their city. While learning about Toronto was great, it was even better to network with other Jacksonville leaders and tell them about all the great things you do every day for the city. One thing was clear: While some of them know our story, many do not. This represents a great opportunity for us to partner with the city and to share our unique value.
Leon L. Haley Jr., M.D., MHSA, C.P.E., FACEP