March 30, 2007

Polk named interim chair of Pediatrics

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Brent Polk, M.D.

Polk named interim chair of Pediatrics

Brent Polk, M.D., director of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and the Vanderbilt Digestive Diseases Research Center, has been named interim chair of the Department of Pediatrics.

Polk fills the role vacated by Arnold Strauss, M.D., who announced last month he would leave the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt to take the chief executive role at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Polk's interim appointment was announced to the Children's Hospital Board and the Pediatrics faculty earlier this week.

“We are extremely pleased that Brent agreed to take on this role,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “His skills, abilities and leadership make him the right person to lead the department during this time of transition.”

Polk looks forward to guiding the department on an interim basis while a national search is conducted for a permanent chair.

“I'm excited, honored and humbled by this appointment and I know there is a lot of work ahead,” Polk said. “There will be challenges, but we will continue to work toward developing programs of excellence in the Department of Pediatrics in concert with Children's Hospital.

“We will want to build on the incredible pace Dr. Strauss set, which has led to phenomenal change in our pediatric research enterprise, through laboratory, translational and clinical studies. I would also like to continue to attract the outstanding people we've seen recently at all levels of the department and at the hospital.

“I have an incredible team of division chiefs to work with and learn from as we build towards the future. We will move forward on recruits for division chiefs of Infectious Disease, Pulmonary Medicine and Rheumatology-Immunology during the coming months.

“My goal is for us to attract the strongest candidate for chairman of the department and have the department ready to make the most of the exciting opportunities ahead for us,” Polk said.

Kevin Churchwell, M.D., interim CEO of Children's Hospital, said he is pleased with Polk's appointment.

“We appreciate Dr. Polk for stepping forward at this time. He is an outstanding researcher and pediatrician who has been one of the leaders who has helped our department become one of the best in pediatric research in the nation.

“I think he will be a natural fit to bridge the gap between Dr. Strauss' departure and the recruitment of a new chair of Pediatrics. I look forward to working with him.”

“I am delighted that Brent Polk has agreed to serve as interim chair of our Department of Pediatrics,” said Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. “As division director of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Brent has established a distinguished record of excellence in patient care, research, education and administrative leadership. I am fully supportive of his plans to keep the department moving forward during this period of transition.”

Polk received his medical degree from the University of Arkansas in 1984. He completed his residency at Arkansas Children's Hospital and completed a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital.

He came to Vanderbilt in 1990 as a physician-scientist with a laboratory focus on injury repair mechanisms in gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease. He holds the Deans Professorship in Pediatrics and Cell and Development Biology.