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Vanderbilt’s Brown named dean of Yale School of Medicine

Sep. 12, 2019, 12:37 PM


by John Howser

Nancy Brown, MD, Hugh J. Morgan Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, has been named dean of the Yale School of Medicine. She will join Yale on Feb. 1, 2020.

Nancy Brown, MD

Brown, a Yale alumna, began her scientific career there while earning an A.B. degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.

Known for her quiet warmth, Brown is widely recognized as a distinguished teacher and mentor, and as an internationally renowned investigator and clinician. Throughout her career she has demonstrated the highest level of skill at balancing the roles of clinician, scientist and administrator.

“Dr. Brown is an outstanding leader who has ably led our largest academic department. Nancy has recruited and developed a stellar team of division leaders and faculty members who have significantly increased the department’s clinical and research productivity while she has worked to foster an environment where faculty, students and trainees can thrive. While we will miss her extraordinary contributions, I am excited for Nancy to assume this leadership role at Yale and wish her the very best on this exciting new stage in her career,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The Vanderbilt Department of Medicine was founded in 1925. In August 2010, Brown became the department’s eighth chair. She is responsible for 928 faculty members in 13 academic divisions and several interdisciplinary centers, who are joined by 157 residents and 280 fellows.

According to the 2019-2020 U.S. News and World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings, the department’s internal medicine training program ranks 10th in the nation.

During Brown’s tenure the number of Department of Medicine faculty has increased by almost 30% while clinical activities have surged, with outpatient visits growing 59% and inpatient admissions by 25%. Her many accomplishments include: recruiting eight new division directors, including four women; increasing the proportion of residents, fellows, faculty and leaders within the department from groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine; enhancing resources for physician-scientist trainees and junior faculty; establishing career development resources for clinician educators; creating a scientific advisory board for the department; and appointing a department quality council to lead the standardization of physician practice and improve the quality of patient care and service.

The department’s overall research funding is currently ranked second among the nation’s departments of medicine in terms of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Since Brown became chair, the department’s total research funding has increased by 56% and funding from the NIH has increased by 47%. The impact of the department’s research has also grown as measured by citations and faculty members receiving increased recognition by external organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Medicine.

“I have come to love this department, this institution and its people, as well as the patients and community we serve,” Brown said. “Words cannot express my gratitude for so many mentors, colleagues and friends, and for our trainees from whom we learn every day. I know that we will continue to work together and exchange ideas, if at a distance, for many years to come.”

Before serving as chair of the Department of Medicine, Brown was associate dean for Clinical and Translational Scientist Development and chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology.

Together with the late Thomas Hazinski, MD, she founded the Vanderbilt Master of Science in Clinical Investigation program to train investigators in the techniques and processes utilized in patient-oriented research. In her role as associate dean, she established the Elliot Newman Society to nurture the development of physician-scientists at Vanderbilt.

While taking on increased leadership responsibilities and mentoring scores of students, residents, fellows and faculty members, Brown has led a dynamic translational research program in cardiovascular pharmacology that has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1993.

A clinical pharmacologist by training, and a specialist in vascular biology and hypertension, among Brown’s research contributions she has defined the molecular mechanisms through which commonly prescribed blood pressure and diabetes drugs affect the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease. She has also remained clinically active and provides care to patients with resistant and secondary forms of hypertension.

In addition, Brown serves on numerous editorial boards and national and international scientific advisory committees, providing guidance on the development of future research programs and educational initiatives.

In recognition of her accomplishments, she has received numerous awards, including election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians and the National Academy of Medicine.

Brown earned her MD with honors from Harvard University. She completed residency training in medicine and fellowship in clinical pharmacology at Vanderbilt, and served as the Hugh J. Morgan Chief Resident in Medicine, before joining the faculty in 1992.

Brown’s successor will be identified through a national search.

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