June 9, 2006

Pinson, Sandler to lead clinical programs

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C. Wright Pinson, M.D., M.B.A., left, Martin Sandler, M.D., right

Pinson, Sandler to lead clinical programs

Two longtime Vanderbilt leaders have accepted newly created roles atop the University's clinical enterprise.

Martin Sandler, M.D., has been named to the new role of associate vice chancellor for Hospital Affairs. Sandler will oversee all four Vanderbilt hospitals — Vanderbilt University Hospital, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Psychiatric Hospital at Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital. He steps down from his chairmanship of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and into the new role on July 1.

C. Wright Pinson, M.D., M.B.A., leads the Vanderbilt Medical Group and heads up quality improvement efforts across the entire Vanderbilt clinical enterprise. While retaining his current responsibilities as associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs and chief medical officer, Pinson will assume a significantly expanded role effective July 1. Then, he will take on oversight of The Vanderbilt Clinic and all off-campus clinical activities, including a growing regional network of physician practices, outpatient treatment centers, Cool Springs Surgery Center and McKendree Village, a retirement community affiliated with VUMC.

The appointments were announced today by Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

“From near and far, growing numbers of patients are seeking Vanderbilt's services,” Jacobson said. “As a consequence, opportunities are mounting significantly for our organization. Now that we've managed to win such tremendous consumer preference, we need to really take advantage of that.

“At this important time, it's assuring to see energetic leaders of the stature of Dr. Sandler and Dr. Pinson taking on new responsibilities within our leadership team. I'm excited that we were able to interest Wright and Martin in these vital new leadership roles.

“As we proceed, what I'd like all of us to keep in mind is that there's plenty more to be done if we're truly to optimize access, quality and service.”

The new roles amount to the splitting of responsibilities handled by Executive Vice President for Clinical Affairs Norman Urmy. As announced last month, Urmy will step down at the end of June. After taking the summer off, he plans to return to VUMC to assist Jacobson with strategic initiatives.

Jacobson, quoted in the May 26 edition of the Reporter, said, “Norman's contributions to Vanderbilt are widespread. I can't think of one aspect of this Medical Center that hasn't been touched by his skilled hands or changed for the better by his leadership.”

Noting that Urmy's background is strictly administrative and that he has led the clinical enterprise for almost two-and-a-half decades, Jacobson said the leadership change sets up an interesting experiment. “Now we'll see what a couple of physicians can do with these responsibilities.”

Urmy's move might have led to a lengthy transition, involving considerable time for recruitment and for a new leader's familiarization with VUMC.

“We're in a period of increasing momentum,” Jacobson said. “This readjustment of roles should allow our organization to continue through this important phase of development with little or no break in stride.”

“Both Wright and Martin know the organization. I think they'll do a great job,” Urmy said, adding that he will be available to help with the transition.

“I'm quite humbled by being asked to do this,” Sandler said. “It's an enormous responsibility. I look forward to the opportunity to bring together the clinical departments and the hospital-based departments in a much closer working relationship. And I look forward very much to working with our outstanding hospital leadership team.

“I would also like to congratulate Norman on his 24 years at VUMC. It's been an outstanding career. I'm very pleased he's not leaving.”

Pinson said he is happy to serve in this new capacity. “I look forward to working with Dr. Sandler, Mr. Urmy, when he returns, and the entire leadership team to meet the challenging opportunities that lie ahead for our institution.

“We've gotten a good bit of traction in our quality and service efforts these past two years. Our efforts toward clinical outcomes tracking and accountability have been a huge step forward. Similarly, our work on evidence-based medicine has been remarkable. Furthering these efforts is likely to yield true improvements in the way we deliver care.”

Pinson is a 1980 graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He studied physics at Miami University and the University of Colorado, then worked as an engineer for IBM while completing a master's in business administration at Colorado. He trained as a surgeon at Oregon Health Sciences University, Lahey Clinic and Harvard University. He built Oregon's liver transplantation program and started the first liver transplant program for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1990 and was named director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center in 1993. From 1993 to 2004, he served as interim chair, vice chair and then chair of the Department of Surgery. His other roles have included director of the General Surgery Residency Program, chair of the Medical Center Board and VUH chief of staff. He was named associate vice chancellor and chief medical officer for VUMC in 2004.

A 1972 graduate of the University of Cape Town Medical School, Sandler continued his training at Groote Schuur Hospital (Cape Town) and Johannesburg General Hospital. He came to Vanderbilt in 1980 as a fellow in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, switching two years later to the Division of Nuclear Medicine. He joined the faculty in 1983, accepting a joint appointment in the departments of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and Medicine. Among other duties, he has been director of Clinical Nuclear Medicine/PET, director of the Nuclear Medicine Residency Training Program, director of the Radiological Sciences Research Laboratory, chair of the Vanderbilt Hospital Medical Board, and he's the current chair of the Vanderbilt Medical Group executive committee. He was named chair of Radiology and Radiological Sciences in 2000.

Pinson is the H. William Scott Professor of Surgery. Sandler is the Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Professor and chair of Radiology and Radiological Sciences.