June 11, 2004

Balser steps down from Anesthesiology chairmanship

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Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., Ph.D.

Balser steps down from Anesthesiology chairmanship

Effective June 1, Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., Ph.D., has stepped down as chairman of the department of Anesthesiology. Balser took on new responsibilities as associate vice chancellor for research on Jan. 1, and has held both positions since that time.

“I want to congratulate Jeff and the members of his department on their successes under his leadership, including the significant growth of the department’s clinical programs, the recruitment of excellent house staff into their expanded residency training program, and the growth of their clinical and basic science research efforts,” said Steven G. Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine.

Balser, 42, professor of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology and holder of the James Tayloe Gwathmey Physician-Scientist Chair, has been chairman of Anesthesiology since September 2001.

“At the time I became chairman,” Balser said, “I could not have foreseen the opportunity to work with our medical center leadership to manage the research enterprise would come so soon. Opportunities like this are rarely predictable. … It became clear that both roles demanded my full attention, so it was time to make a difficult choice.”

Under Balser’s leadership, the Anesthesiology faculty grew by 36 percent. During this time, the department has responded to a nearly 30 percent increase in operating room and intensive care unit coverage responsibilities.

The department also continued to advance and diversify its research portfolio. In terms of total funding awarded to departments of anesthesiology by the National Institutes of Health, in 2003 the department rose to 12th.

Balser said a new and expanded leadership team established during his tenure as chair is helping the department achieve its goals in clinical care, education and faculty career development. He is pleased that vigorous recruiting efforts have attracted extraordinary new faculty, staff and trainees to the department, “which,” he said, “has created an atmosphere of excellence.”

Balser is also proud of the national leadership role the department is taking in perioperative informatics, with its Vanderbilt Perioperative Information Management and Vigilance systems. “These systems position Vanderbilt Anesthesiology to completely redefine the process of OR care, while simultaneously improving safety and cost effectiveness.”

Michael S. Higgins, M.D., has been named interim chairman of Anesthesiology. An associate professor with appointments in Anesthesiology, Surgery, and Biomedical Informatics, Higgins was vice chairman of clinical affairs for Anesthesiology.