September 29, 2000

Beauchamp named to succeed O’Neill as Surgical Section head

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Dr. R. Daniel Beauchamp (photo by Anne Rayner)

Beauchamp named to succeed O’Neill as Surgical Section head

Dr. R. Daniel Beauchamp, James L. Sawyers Chair in Surgery, was named director of the Section of Surgical Sciences Wednesday in an announcement by Dr. John E. Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine, at a division chiefs meeting.

Beauchamp succeeds Dr. James A. O’Neill Jr., John Clinton Foshee Distinguished Chair in Surgery, who is retiring as head of the section. The transition will become official June 30 of next year.

“Dan is an excellent clinician and surgeon, a superb teacher, and a national and international leader in the field of cancer research. I don’t think there is anyone in academic surgery who is more qualified to lead the Vanderbilt Section of Surgical Sciences to the next level,” said Dr. Harry Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

“He brings experience in the surgical sciences together with an impressive background in service, education, and research,” Chapman said.

“The concept and practice of surgery in the section fosters collaboration and is built upon concepts of joint endeavor initiated some years ago with Dr. H. William Scott and passed forward to his successor Dr. John Sawyers, and passed forward to his successor, Dr. James A. O’Neill.”

For his part, O’Neill applauded what he called “the good sense” of the advisory committee and the vice chancellor for the choice of Beauchamp.

“He is extraordinarily well-suited to take on this job,” O’Neill said. “He has the capacity, particularly because of his research strengths, to put Vanderbilt Surgery at the next level. We have the opportunity for Vanderbilt Surgery to be placed in a very a special group of institutions.”

O’Neill will continue in a variety of administrative roles, including assisting with planning for the surgery aspects of the new Children’s Hospital.

“ I am both thrilled and honored to receive this appointment,” Beauchamp said. “At the same time, I am humbled to realize that I will assume the same position that giants like Barney Brooks, William Scott, John Sawyers and James O’Neill have so ably held.”

Beauchamp said he is taking the reins of the section at a time of promise and challenges.

“This is a very exciting time to be a part of this dynamic medical center and university. The commitment for investment in the future of the Section of Surgical Sciences is significant. I have had the opportunity to visit many of the top medical centers in the country. Very few can match, and none that I know of can exceed, the level of growth and the investment in the future of academic medicine that is occurring at Vanderbilt.

“While we are not without significant challenges, I am extremely optimistic that the Section of Surgical Sciences, and VUMC overall, will thrive and continue to increase our contribution to the improvement of health care in both our local and national communities and internationally.”

The director of the division of Surgical Oncology, Beauchamp, 44, maintains an active surgical practice, particularly in the areas of breast and gastrointestinal cancer, as well as a vibrant basic research laboratory. He serves as associate director for clinical programs for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and a member of the center’s executive leadership team.

His research interests focus on colorectal carcinogenesis, gastrointestinal tumor biology, epithelial growth control and the identification of novel molecular targets for cancer therapy. His laboratory is involved in fundamental and translational investigation, and Beauchamp is also an active investigator in Vanderbilt-Ingram’s clinical trials.

When Beauchamp joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1994 as associate professor of Surgery (Surgical Oncology) and Cell Biology, it was a homecoming of sorts. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Texas and serving his residency there, he came to Vanderbilt as a research assistant professor in the laboratory of Dr. Harold L. Moses, then chair of Cell Biology and now director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

A native of San Antonio, Beauchamp returned to his home state in 1989, when he joined the faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He was first assistant professor, then associate professor, in the departments of Surgery and Human Biological Chemistry & Genetics and on the faculty of the Graduate School.

After three years back at Vanderbilt, he rose to the level of division chief and was named John L. Sawyers M.D. Professor of Surgery and professor of Cell Biology in 1997.

Beauchamp recently completed a one-year term as president of the Society of University Surgeons, and has been a member of the executive committee for five years. He was only the second Vanderbilt faculty member elected to the position, which was held by Dr. H. William Scott in 1960 when he was professor and chair of Surgery. n