December 3, 2004

Chescheir to lead OB/GYN

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Nancy Chescheir, M.D.

Chescheir to lead OB/GYN

Nancy C. Chescheir, M.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been named chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She will assume the role effective Feb. 1, 2005, becoming the first woman to chair a clinical department in the medical school's 129 years.

Chescheir, 49, Charles Hendricks Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Medical Alumni Teaching Professor at UNC, arrived in Chapel Hill in 1973 as a freshman in college and received both her undergraduate and medical degrees from the school. She also served her residency at UNC, including a year as chief resident and a fellowship before joining the faculty there in 1988.

At Vanderbilt, Chescheir succeeds Stephen S. Entman, M.D., who is stepping down after 10 years as chair of the department. He will remain on the faculty.

Chescheir, a perinatologist, has a clinical care emphasis in prenatal diagnosis by ultrasound, the care of multiple gestations, and fetal abnormalities and growth problems. She also has a strong interest in, and has published frequently about, women's health issues, such as preventive care and cardiovascular health, and domestic violence.

At UNC at Chapel Hill she has been deeply involved in the school's educational and clinical missions, serving as associate dean for Curriculum and director of the fetal therapy program since June 1999.

She also has been a program scientist at the National Institute of Child Health and Development, a division of the National Institutes of Health, since January 2003, working with the fetal surgery trial. She resigned that position because of conflict of interest issues when she accepted the Vanderbilt chairmanship. Vanderbilt is one of the lead participants in the NIH fetal surgery trial.

Chescheir said she had not planned on leaving Chapel Hill. Her mother died in March and her father still lives there. “I wasn't looking to leave and certainly didn't want to leave my father, but the position at Vanderbilt was too good to turn down — the strength of the institution and Vanderbilt's commitment to the three-part mission of education, patient care and research is not just given lip service,” she said.

“I did my due diligence and talked to people at Vanderbilt as well as those at other institutions about Vanderbilt, and found out the commitment is a real thing. It's very important to the Dean, to Dr. (Harry) Jacobson, and to Chancellor (Gordon) Gee. The leadership's vision of Vanderbilt continuing as a strong, leading academic medical center is a key reason why I was willing to leave Chapel Hill.”

Chescheir and Gabbe, also a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, have known each through professional organizations since 1989. Gabbe said Chescheir brings great strengths.

“We are very fortunate to have recruited Dr. Chescheir,” Gabbe said. “She will build on the foundation of excellence established by Dr. Entman, preceded by Dr. Lonnie Burnett and many before them. She is recognized for her excellence as an educator, a clinician and as a clinical investigator and although she is the first woman to chair a clinical department in our school's history, regardless of gender, she's one of the most respected leaders in obstetrics and gynecology in the country. She's the best person for the position.”

Entman agrees. “I am delighted that the Dean convinced Dr. Chescheir to assume this role. Over the years I have known her, I have had great respect for her thoughtfulness and her demeanor. I look forward to her leading the department during this period of new growth.”

Chescheir said the department is filled with “very capable, forward-thinking people.

“It's just a wonderful medical school with an international presence. It will be an honor to be there,” she said, adding that she wants to listen to the faculty and staff when she arrives in February. “I want to hear what people feel is important — faculty within the department and in other areas of the Medical Center and University, residents, and medical students.”

Chescheir is married to George M. Chescheir III, Ph.D., a research associate professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at North Carolina State University. They have two children, Stuart, 18, a high school senior, and Alex, 20, a junior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.