The Strategic Hiring Initiative (SHI) is a major part of growing our research enterprise. We are investing $60 million over five years to hire a total 30-32 faculty, primarily physician-scientists. The goal is to strengthen existing collaborative research groups and to catalyze new initiatives and collaborations.
Through the SHI and other strategic recruitment efforts, we’re hiring the best scientists and physician-scientists into thematic areas of organ transplant, metabolic disorders, precision medicine, regenerative medicine. These themes build on the strengths of the previously identified areas of cancer, cardiovascular, and neurosciences. We are now a year and half into this initiative and have already hired a number of outstanding faculty. Below are recent strategic hires who are joining us this year:
- Philip Bourne, PhD, arriving on May 1, will be the Director of the Data Science Institute. Dr. Bourne comes to us from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he served as the first NIH Associate Director for Data Science, reporting directly to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. He is regarded nationally and internationally as one of the top researchers in the field of informatics and data.
- Francine Garrett-Bakelman, MD, PhD, arrived on March 1, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematology Medical Oncology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics. Dr. Garrett-Bakelman came from Cornell University School of Medicine. She’s working on the genetics of leukemia and is the lead investigator on the NASA “Twins” project, which studies the effects of weightlessness on the human genome. This research is in preparation for sending humans to Mars.
- Ananda Basu, MD, and Rita Basu, MD, a husband-and-wife team, arriving on July 1, are Professors of Medicine (Endocrinology) from the Mayo Clinic, where Rita chaired the Institutional Review Board for the Mayo Clinic Office of Human Research Protection. They collaborate with Dr. Boris Kovatchev’s on the artificial pancreas and, with support from the University’s Strategic Investment Fund, will work with him on the wireless diabetes clinical trial.
- José Oberholzer, MD, who arrived on March 1, is the Director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center. He comes to us from the University of Illinois and is an international expert in the robotics of organ transplantation. Dr. Oberholzer researches cell therapies for diabetes and other endocrine disorders. Under his guidance, our center will be the only one in the nation that can transplant all solid organs.
SHI investigators are starting to add to the already impressive gain in NIH funding that was initiative this past year, when our school’s rankings moved from 40th to 35th, seen in the recent Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research report, which provides medical school rankings by total NIH grant awards. (You can read more about those rankings here.)
Please join me in welcoming these new faculty to the University of Virginia School of Medicine. I look forward to seeing their medical science advancements in the coming years.
David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science
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