Professor Appointed Academic and Clinical Dean
Nancy Tarbell, the C.C. Wang professor of radiation oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, will become the dean for academic and clinical affairs at HMS, effective July 28. She succeeds Raphael Dolin, the Maxwell Finland professor of medicine (microbiology and molecular genetics) at HMS and BWH. Dolin is stepping down to devote more time to his research and clinical activities.
“I am thrilled to be part of the dean’s leadership team and the new strategic initiatives that will enhance the mission of HMS,” said Tarbell.
Tarbell is the chief of pediatric radiation oncology at MGH, where she has also directed the Center for Faculty Development since 2005 and the Office for Women’s Careers since 1997. She is considered an international authority in pediatric radiation oncology with special expertise in pediatric neuro-oncology. In recognition of her academic achievements, she was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2002.
As dean for academic and clinical affairs, her responsibilities will include promoting, coordinating, and supporting the academic and clinical activities of the HMS faculty, with an emphasis on faculty development and diversity. She will conduct clinical department reviews and administer affiliation agreements. Tarbell will also oversee the Office of Faculty Affairs, the Office of Faculty and Research Integrity, the Office for Diversity and Community Partnership, the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, and many HMS-wide centers and divisions. Tarbell will continue to spend a portion of her time in clinical practice at MGH for the duration of her appointment.
“As a prominent advocate for faculty development and diversity, Nancy has a background that wonderfully fits her new role,” said HMS dean Jeffrey Flier. He also expressed “profound gratitude” for Dolin’s “enormous contributions to the School and its programs.”
Education and Medicine Linked in Academy Chair
The May 6 celebration of the Gerald S. Foster Academy Professorship in Medicine was a tribute to excellence in both patient care and education. HMS dean Jeffrey Flier (left) began by stressing the importance of Academy professorships and added that he was delighted to announce that Katharine Treadway (right) is the first incumbent of the Foster chair. He then introduced Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital, who thanked Foster on behalf of the hospital for more than 50 years of service. Slavin described the importance of endowed professorships to the hospitals and to the Medical School, noting that, “in this case, the chair also perpetuates the contribution and legacy of a physician who both is stellar in the practice of internal medicine and, through his teaching and practice, has inspired others to pursue their medical careers with vigor and excellence.” He added that Treadway would “capably and proudly carry [Foster’s] legacy into the future.”
Daniel Federman, the Carl W. Walter distinguished professor of medicine at HMS and BWH, underscored the value of the relationship between the hospitals and HMS that the Academy chair represents, describing Foster, formerly the faculty associate dean of admissions, as “the person who obliterated the three-mile distance between [HMS and MGH] with one giant stride.”
Two donors and patients, Steve Swensrud and Bill Harris, confirmed the devotion and compassion Foster has for his patients. “You’ve taken better care of me than anyone possibly could have,” said Swensrud.
When Foster (center) took the microphone, he thanked everyone for their remarks and turned his attention to Treadway, describing her as a “gifted teacher” and “primary care physician extraordinaire.” He recounted the time he interviewed her for her internship, saying he thought she was a “slam dunk.” He also returned the praise to his patients who were present at the celebration, thanking them for putting their trust in him and calling them “the real heroes.”
Four Faculty Members Become Howard Hughes Investigators
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has selected 56 new investigators, including four faculty members from HMS. For the first time this year, researchers were able to apply directly to the program instead of applying through their institutions. Because HHMI does not use the investigator program to fund particular projects, Howard Hughes investigators are free to use the funding to pursue whatever kind of research they choose, which encourages innovative and ambitious research. HHMI will provide a total of $600 million to the new investigators during their first term.
The new investigators from HMS are Danesh Moazed, David Pellman, Bernardo Sabatini, and Thomas Walz.
Moazed, HMS professor of cell biology, focuses on understanding how RNA- and protein-based epigenetic mechanisms regulate gene expression and chromatin structure. His research has identified the machinery that uses small RNAs to guide the proteins that build the tightly bound heterochromatin over the correct stretch of DNA.
An HMS associate professor of pediatrics at Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston, Pellman and his colleagues use a combination of genetics, biochemistry, and live-cell imaging to study cell division and the maintenance of genome stability in yeast and animal cells. Projects are aimed at defining the molecular mechanism of mitosis and understanding how changes in chromosome number (polyploidy and aneuploidy) affect genome stability and cancer.
The Sabatini laboratory studies the mechanisms of synapse regulation in the mammalian brain and how perturbations of synaptic transmission contribute to neurological diseases. Using technology developed by the lab, Sabatini, HMS associate professor of neurobiology, examines the biophysical, structural, and functional properties of individual synapses and dendritic spines. In addition, he designs experiments in which cell-autonomous effects of signaling pathways are isolated, and in which pre- and postsynaptic effects of perturbations are clearly separated.
Walz, HMS professor of cell biology, uses high-resolution electron microscopy combined with digital-image processing to determine protein structures. In particular, electron crystallography is used to solve the structure of integral membrane proteins and single-particle electron microscopy to visualize the structures of macromolecular complexes. His major research interests concern membrane transporters for neutral solutes, such as aquaporins and urea transporters, cell surface receptors, and chromatin remodeling complexes.
Surgery Heads Recognized for Advancement of Women
The 2008 Joseph B. Martin Dean’s Award for the Advancement of Women Faculty was presented at the May 21 meeting of the Faculty of Medicine. The award recognizes faculty or staff members who have demonstrated commitment to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women at HMS and HSDM. Established by Martin, former HMS dean, in 1998, the award is cosponsored by the dean of the Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Committee on the Status of Women. This year’s winners are Michael Zinner (left), the Moseley professor of surgery at HMS and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and head of the Department of Surgery at the Brigham, and Andrew Warshaw (right), the W. Gerald Austen professor of surgery at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital and head of the Department of Surgery at MGH.
Scientist to Lead Oral Medicine
Roland Baron has been appointed chair of the Department of Oral Medicine, Infection, and Immunity at HSDM. He is internationally known for his groundbreaking advances in bone biology, and his research is the basis for the development of novel therapies to prevent bone loss, such as that in arthritis and osteoporosis. Baron and his lab have moved to HSDM from the Yale University School of Medicine, where he was a professor of orthopedics and cell biology. Baron’s laboratory focuses on signal transduction and the ways in which it controls cell differentiation and function. To that end, the lab studies skeletal development and remodeling as a model system. Baron is editor in chief and founder of the journal Bone and associate editor of the Journal of Cellular Physiology. His professional honors include receiving the 2005 D. Harold Copp Award in Basic Research from the International Bone and Mineral Society.
HST Society Renamed for Founding Director
The Harvard–MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology has announced that the HST Society at HMS will be renamed the Irving M. London Society of the Harvard–MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, honoring Irving London (pictured), HMS professor emeritus of medicine and founding director of HST. HMS dean Jeffrey Flier announced the change at the June 4 HST graduation ceremony, at which London delivered the keynote address.
London, who will celebrate his 90th birthday this summer, helped plan and establish the HST program nearly 40 years ago. His vision for the integration of interdisciplinary biomedical research, education, and medical practice, along with the desires of both Harvard and MIT to create a partnership, melded the strengths of both institutions to form the HST Division. Over the years, HST has taken a leadership role in the application of engineering to medicine and in the training of physician-scientists with the quantitative skills that have positioned them at the forefront of biomedical research.
London served as director from HST’s inception in 1971 until 1985. Still an active member of the HST community, he continues to direct Molecular Medicine, a popular course that he initiated. London’s achievements in medical research and education have been recognized by awards and honors, among which are selection to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and selection as a founding member of the Institute of Medicine.
“Irving London is a constant source of inspiration for the HST community,” said David Cohen, co-director of HST. “This new name not only honors his many contributions to HST, but it also perpetuates his vision for generations of students to come.”
Diabetes Award Honors Medical Dean Flier
HMS dean Jeffrey Flier has received the American Diabetes Association’s Albert Renold Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the training of diabetes research scientists and the facilitation of diabetes research. Flier’s work has produced major insights into the molecular mechanism of insulin action and of insulin resistance in human disease and into the molecular pathophysiology of obesity. He has also contributed to the understanding of the hormone leptin and the pathways it regulates. His proposal that leptin serves as a switch from the fed to the starved state has shaped the discourse of the field. The award will be presented at the ADA’s annual Scientific Sessions later this month.
Exceptional Teachers Honored
The Program in Medical Education presented the 2008 Teaching Awards to 11 faculty members and one staff member on May 12 in the TMEC amphitheater. In his opening remarks, HMS dean Jeffrey Flier stressed the importance he places on medical education and described taking part in an awards ceremony that honors teaching a “pure joy.” That sentiment was echoed in the comments of the students and colleagues who introduced the award recipients, each one heralding the profound impact an outstanding teacher can have on the education and career path of a student.
The following is a list of the 2008 HMS Teaching Award recipients.
Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching
Patricia Kritek, HMS instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Helen Shields, HMS associate professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Holcombe Grier, HMS associate professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston
Hope Ricciotti, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at BID
Cynthia N. Kettyle Teaching Award/Harvard Departments of Psychiatry
Jonathan Alpert, associate professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital
Steven Schlozman, assistant professor of psychiatry at MGH
AAMC Humanism in Medicine Award
Barbara Gottlieb, associate professor of medicine at BWH
S. Robert Stone Senior Award at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Sara Fazio, assistant professor of medicine at BID
S. Robert Stone Senior Award for Excellence in Teaching
Theodore Steinman, clinical professor of medicine at BID
Leo A. Blacklow Award at Mount Auburn Hospital
Gregory Gauvin, clinical instructor in medicine at Mount Auburn Hospital
Klaus Peter International Teaching Award
Eng Lo, professor of radiology at MGH
L. James Wiczai Jr. Award
Jeanne Bruno, administrative assistant for medical student education in the Department of Medicine at Mount Auburn
New Dean Named for Research Integrity
Dean Jeffrey Flier announced that Gretchen Brodnicki, JD, has been named dean for faculty and research integrity at HMS.
The new dean is a longtime member of the HMS “family.” In her current position as director of research compliance for the Partners HealthCare System, she works with faculty and administration at four affiliated teaching hospitals, Brigham and Women’s, Massachusetts General, McLean, and Spaulding. Before joining Partners, she served as director of research compliance for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Prior to this, she practiced law privately in the areas of civil litigation and health care, representing clients in intellectual property disputes as well as in corporate, regulatory, and transactional matters with an emphasis on fraud prevention, practice integration, and risk management.
Brodnicki graduated from Gannon University in Erie, Pa., where she received a BS in business administration, and from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, where she received her JD in 1996.
“Gretchen was selected from a stellar field of candidates and confirmed by a search committee that included members from HMS, the University’s General Counsel’s Office, Partners HealthCare System, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital Boston,” said Flier. She will begin on July 21, succeeding Margaret Dale, who retired on May 30.
Flier also extended his gratitude to Dale “for her wise guidance during her tenure here. Since joining HMS in 1991, she has served three deans with utmost distinction.”
Field of Rheumatology Moves Ahead With Professorship
Jeffrey Flier (left), dean of the Faculty of Medicine, opened the April 28 celebration of the John R. and Eileen K. Riedman Professorship in Medicine in the Field of Rheumatology thanking the eponymous donors for their contribution that created the chair, the first in rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Brigham president Gary Gottlieb said, “This endowed chair is certain to have a transformational effect on clinical care.”
After remarks by Joseph Loscalzo, the Hersey professor of the theory and practice of physic, who lauded the first incumbent, Michael Weinblatt, K. Frank Austen, the AstraZeneca professor of respiratory and inflammatory diseases, suggested that research in the field should move into genomic analysis to uncover the DNA basis of etiology as well as toxicity.
At the lectern, Weinblatt (second from left) thanked Austen for his mentorship and praised the Riedmans (right) for being generous, direct, and honest. Weinblatt said that when the call came in from John Riedman about his support for the professorship, there was no pretense or fanfare. As Weinblatt described it, Riedman simply said, “‘No problem. I talked to Eileen; we’re going to fund the chair.’”
Social Medicine Goes Global
Beginning in the 2008–2009 academic year, the Department of Social Medicine at HMS, headed by Jim Yong Kim, will be formally known as the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. This change reflects the growing international orientation of the department and acknowledges the work being conducted around the world by many of the department’s faculty members.
In the ongoing Strategic Planning Initiative, the global health advisory group recommended identifying a central institutional structure within HMS to assist in organizing global health activities, which will now officially fall within the scope of the renamed department. While the specific responsibilities of the department will evolve over time, the new name demonstrates the rapid growth of interest in global health among students and faculty, as well as the School’s commitment to ensuring that its impact on health and medicine will, indeed, have a global reach.
This realignment at the Medical School coincides with a similar move by HSPH, which is renaming its Department of Population and International Health, the Department of Global Health and Population. These changes at HMS and HSPH accompany the University’s effort to strengthen institution-wide global health activities in the interfaculty Harvard Initiative for Global Health, which is dedicated to increasing opportunities for educating the next generation of global health leaders.