July 13, 2001

O’Day, Graham and Ebert vacate departmental chairs

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Dr. Denis O’Day

O’Day, Graham and Ebert vacate departmental chairs

Dr. Michael Ebert

Dr. Michael Ebert

Dr. Doyle Graham

Dr. Doyle Graham

Three Vanderbilt University Medical Center department chairs with more than 52 combined years of service to Vanderbilt, one of them Dr. Denis M. O’Day who came to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1972, are stepping down as chairs of their respective departments. They leave behind their indelible mark on the institution.

O’Day, George Weeks Hale Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Dr. Michael H. Ebert, professor and chair of Psychiatry, recently announced that they are stepping down. Dr. Doyle G. Graham, professor and chair of Pathology, has already vacated his post. All will remain on faculty.

“During very turbulent times in academic medicine the school and the hospital have benefited from the leadership of Drs. O’Day, Ebert and Graham,” said Dr. Steven G. Gabbe, dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “We look forward to the continued contributions they will make as members of our faculty.”

O’Day, a native of Melbourne, Australia, came to Vanderbilt in 1972 as an assistant professor of Ophthalmology after a residency in internal medicine in Melbourne, an ophthalmology residency in San Francisco and a fellowship in corneal and external disease at Moorefield’s Eye Hospital in London. He also worked as a consultant ophthalmologist to the Royal Commonwealth Society of the Blind in Nigeria.

At Vanderbilt he quickly worked his way up the faculty ladder, being named Michael J. Hogan Professor of Ophthalmology in 1989, then George Weeks Hale Professor and Chair in 1992. He built a thriving department at VUMC and was instrumental in the development and opening of the Tennessee Lions Eye Center at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in 1997. He has been active in leadership both at VUMC and in national Ophthalmology societies. In 1996 he was named executive director of the American Board of Ophthalmology, the first independent medical board established in the United States. He has been a member of the Committee for the Study of Examination Procedures of the American Board of Medical Specialties since 1999. In 1997 he received the Special Recognition Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The award recognized his contributions to education, patient care and clinical research in Ophthalmology.

“Dr. O’Day’s contributions to Vanderbilt are widespread,” Gabbe said. “He has led the department recognized for its broad range of superb clinical training programs and, personally, has had continuous funding from the NIH for 25 years.”

Ebert, who is also Psychiatrist-in-Chief at VUMC, has been chairman of Psychiatry since 1984. He will remain on the Vanderbilt faculty and will continue to serve in his current capacity during the search for his successor.

During the 17 years he has been department chair, he has reorganized the psychiatry program at Vanderbilt, adding clinical services and a broader research base. He developed a divisional structure in the department that added specialized programs in addiction psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, psychopharmacology, forensic psychiatry and mental health policy studies. He played a critical role in planning, building, and deploying the Psychiatric Hospital at Vanderbilt, a freestanding psychiatric hospital on the Vanderbilt campus. In the last several years he has been involved in adapting the clinical psychiatric services at Vanderbilt to the demands of managed care and in building a network of behavioral health care organized by Vanderbilt and its allied institutions.

“Dr. Ebert’s tenure has been marked by outstanding teaching programs for medical students and the creation of the nation’s largest psychiatric hospital with specialized programs for children and adolescents,” Gabbe said.

Ebert is currently playing an active role in educational affairs in psychiatry and academic medicine. He is a Director of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and occupies a seat on the American Board of Medical Specialties. He is also active in the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), having recently been elected to the Administrative Board of the Council of Academic Societies (CAS) of the AAMC, which administers the programs of the CAS and proposes policy initiatives to the AAMC.

Graham came to Vanderbilt in 1995 from Duke University where he had been professor of Pathology, director of Neuropathology and the Integrated Toxicology Program and Dean of Medical Education.

“Dr. Graham, himself a noted neuropathologist, has created an important research program and has overseen the growth of our hospital-based pathology program,” Gabbe said.

Graham has been recognized both within Vanderbilt and outside the institution for his work. He served as chairman of the toxicology study section of the NIH from 1987-88 and received a second Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) grant from the National Institutes of Health in 1998. The grant was to study the effects of inhalation of hexane-based glue, either as the result of chronic industrial exposure or purposeful inhalation. Using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and other techniques, Graham has shown that exposure leads to accumulations of neurofilaments and the degeneration of the distal axon.

He served as a member of the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council of the NIH from 1993-1997 and in 1997 was given a distinguished alumnus award from the Duke Medical Alumni Association.

Dr. David R. Head, professor of Pathology and medical director of the diagnostic laboratories at VUMC, has been named interim chair of the Department of Pathology.

Prior to joining the VUMC faculty in 2000, he was associate professor of the Department of Pathology at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, College of Medicine and served on the staff of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.