Alpern named dean of School of Medicine

This morning, Yale President Richard Levin named Robert Alpern, dean of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, the new dean of the Yale School of Medicine.

Alpern, one of approximately six final candidates considered for the position by the search committee at the School of Medicine, will assume his position on June 1. Levin, who chaired the search committee meetings, said the School of Medicine is looking to strengthen clinical practice and research, and Alpern’s experience as a clinician, professor of nephrology, and medical school dean will be vital for this goal.

“To be dean of a great medical school requires a multitude of traits,” Levin said. “We were seeking a person who had stature as a scientist and physician, who has proven talents as an administrator, a person who understood the importance of clinical practice and clinical research because that’s an area we need to strengthen.”

The selection committee included many department chairs from the School of Medicine, as well as Dean of the Yale School of Nursing Catherine Gilliss and Dean of the School of Public Health Michael Merson.

Daniel DiMaio, a professor of genetics and a member of the search committee, said the position of School of Medicine dean will require versatility.

“We wanted … someone who was financially savvy and who had, I would say, a reputation for being able to work well with the very many complex consistencies the dean will have to [interact] with — like fundraisers, the main university, the hospital, the faculty,” DiMaio said. “We wanted someone with a broad series of experiences.”

Levin said he was pleased with Alpern’s selection, made from an initial pool of approximately 100 candidates.

“I am thrilled at the final outcome,” he said. “The new dean has an outstanding record as an administrator and is thoroughly admired by all the people he has worked with.”

DeMaio said the committee also considered internal candidates, but decided Alpern’s experience best suited him to the position.

“There are certainly advantages to taking someone from inside,” DiMaio said. “They would know the place and already be here — but we felt that [Alpern] had the right combination of characteristics that made him the best person for the job.”

Alpern could not be reached for comment this morning.

Alpern received his B.A. from Northwestern University in 1972, and his M.D. from the University of Chicago in 1976. He was an intern and resident in internal medicine at Columbia University and was a postdoctoral fellow in nephrology and renal physiology at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. An assistant professor at UC San Francisco from 1982 to 1987, Alpern became chief of nephrology at UT Southwestern in 1987 and dean in 1998.

As a researcher, Alpern’s studies have focused on the regulation of kidney transport proteins. He serves on the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Alpern was also on the Council of the American Society of Nephrology from 1995-2002, and was its president in 2001.

Alpern’s wife, Patricia Preisig, is a professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, and researches kidney disease. She will join Alpern at Yale next year to continue her research.

Dennis Spencer, who acted as interim dean this past academic year, will continue as chair of neurosurgery at the School of Medicine.

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