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New vice chancellor seeks to redefine medical school

After a month of workdays as long as his titles, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine Dr. Edward Holmes is settling into the challenge of defining the new position.

Since coming from Stanford University, one of Holmes' most pressing priorities is to redefine the School of Medicine by increasing its interaction with other professional schools on campus. "[One] of the major things I'm interested in is to give an identity to the school of medicine," he said.

He emphasized that the medical school is not just the place where inexperienced undergraduates become health professionals; it also plays home to medical and research faculty. In other words, he said, the medical school is analogous to such entities as the Fuqua School of Business and the School of Law.

Robert Mosteller, professor of law and chair of the Academic Council, emphasized the need for an interdisciplinary approach in the medical school, especially through such endeavors as the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy.

Holmes agreed, adding that institute members want to address the policy and ethical issues surrounding genetics work.

"It'll only be successful if it's something across the entire University," he said.

Holmes mentioned that he is also interested in looking beyond Duke to the nearby National Institute for Environmental Health Services and other area universities. The school must capitalize on the Medical Center's on-going expansion into a Health System, he added.

From the perspective of the School of Medicine, Holmes said, "We formed [the Health System] to serve the academic mission." Beyond financial support, Holmes said that the Health System provides patient-care setting necessary for clinical training.

To further improve the training provided by the medical school, Holmes said, it needs to better incorporate new technology into the curriculum and consider expanding the M.D./Ph.D. program, which is currently smaller than such programs at peer universities.

In addition to the changes Holmes has on tap for the medical school, a degree of administrative reshuffling accompanied his arrival.

Dr. Ralph Snyderman, chancellor for health affairs, became executive dean of the School of Medicine. Holmes said he plans to add two additional positions: vice dean of administration and vice dean of facilities and academic affairs.

"There's too much work for Dr. Snyderman to do," Mosteller said. Also, it is useful to have someone within the School of Medicine that is comparable to the leaders of the University's other schools. "It helps bridge the medical school and the rest of the campus," Mosteller said.

The position being vacated by Dr. Dan Blazer, dean of medical education, will also undergo changes when he steps down June 30 to pursue his research. The deanship will become a vice-dean post, and will be expanded to include broader duties.

The search for Holmes began when Dr. Gordon Hammes stated in spring 1997 his desire to step down from the position of vice chancellor for academic affairs. When the position was redesigned to include dean, the search committee expanded to include representatives from the Academic Council.

Mosteller explained that deans and other upper-level faculty are assumed to have an impact beyond their area, and thus the search committees usually include recommendations from the Academic Council-the general faculty governing body.

Within the School of Medicine, Holmes said that he will work closely with the Executive Committee of the School of Medicine, which includes the vice deans, department chairs and the heads of Medical Center programs and institutes. Holmes said that searches for the new vice-dean positions be complete before the next academic year.

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