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Coogan named chair of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Dec. 8, 2020, 11:01 AM

Alice Coogan, MD, has been named chair of the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.
Alice Coogan, MD, has been named chair of the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. (photo by Susan Urmy)

by John Howser

After an extensive national search Alice Coogan, MD, interim chair of the Department and professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology (PM&I), has been named as the department’s next chair, effective immediately. Coogan will be the seventh chair of the department and the first female chair.

Coogan, who is also executive medical director of Anatomic Pathology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has served as the department’s interim leader since October 2019.

“Dr. Coogan has displayed outstanding leadership as interim chair. We were fortunate to have someone with considerable institutional experience ready to step into this important role. PM&I is poised to make an even larger contribution to the Medical Center’s future, and I look forward to working closely with Alice as we continue to expand the department’s clinical and academic programs,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Coogan joined the faculty of Vanderbilt in 1997 from Duke University where she was assistant professor of pathology and served as associate director of the department’s residency training program.

At VUMC, in addition to her research and clinical work in cytopathology, Coogan has been actively engaged in teaching medical students, residents and fellows. She has been a member of the School of Medicine Admissions Committee since 2010 and served as chair of Admissions from 2014 to 2018. She started the cytopathology fellowship in 2009 and served as the fellowship director until 2019.

PM&I is one of the leading and most innovative departments of its kind in the nation. Home to nearly 160 faculty whose expertise spans the continuum, the department is widely recognized for its basic science investigations in microbial pathogenesis, immunology, cancer biology and its clinical and translational research defining the current and future practice of pathology. Last year, the department ranked No. 11 among peer departments in total National Institutes of Health funding.

High-visibility VUMC programs such as the Personalized Cancer Medicine Initiative and Pharmacogenomic Resource for Enhanced Decisions in Care and Treatment (PREDICT) were instituted in the department’s clinical laboratories.

The department’s pathology residency program, with 25 residency slots, is one of the most desired in the country and offers 21 clinical fellowship programs in almost all areas of diagnostic pathology. More than 40% of all U.S. medical school graduates entering pathology now apply to VUMC’s training program.

“Over the past year, Dr. Coogan’s leadership has been integral to the progress of our health system while her department’s diagnostic laboratories have been center stage, standing up and successfully supplying our in-house COVID testing capabilities. This is one example of the integral role PM&I will continue to play in our future. I look forward to Alice’s continued contributions to advance our health system’s objectives,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC.

“I am so inspired by the talented faculty, trainees and staff that we have in the department of PMI. I have been impressed with their spirit of collaboration, determination and innovation, especially in the face of adversity. There is no limit to what this department can do as we grow our world class clinical and research programs. I am honored to be a part of the outstanding leadership team of PMI and VUMC,” said Coogan.

At Vanderbilt Coogan has received multiple honors for teaching, including the Shovel Teaching Award, Jack Davies Basic Science Teaching Award, Residents’ Teaching Award in Anatomic Pathology, and the Faculty Teaching Award for teaching excellence in a small group setting. She was inducted into the Academy for Teaching Excellence in 2012.

Coogan earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and her medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Her residency training in anatomic and clinical pathology was at Duke University Medical Center, where she also underwent fellowship training in cytopathology.

Coogan is married to Philip Coogan, MD, who is also a VUSM alum and surgeon with Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance. They are the parents of five grown children.

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