October 15, 2014

A year in the Dean's chair

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Oct. 15 marks the one-year anniversary for Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., in his role as senior vice president and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. It's been an exciting 12 months, punctuated by a series of recruitment and organizational successes that collectively advance UAB's standing on the academic medicine landscape.

"Our reputation isn't built on the size of our buildings or how many people we see, but on the strength of our doctors and researchers," Vickers says.

A few of the achievements on Dean Vickers' watch are highlighted below:
  • The recruitment of acclaimed cancer researchers Ravi Bhatia, M.D., and Smita Bhatia, M.D., who will join UAB in January 2015; and Mitchell Cohen, M.D., a leader in pediatric medicine and children's digestive disorders, who on Sept. 1 assumed the role of chair of the Department of Pediatrics and was elected physician-in-chief of Children's of Alabama by its board of trustees.
  • The School of Medicine achieved the highest level of accreditation available to a medical school in the United States by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) after a rigorous, two-year self-study process that culminated in a visit from the LCME site survey team in March 2014. The accreditation is valid for eight years, and UAB posted two-thirds fewer citations than in its previous review.
  • In the notification letter regarding reaccreditation, LCME praised the school's ongoing efforts in diversity, especially in recruiting and promoting more female faculty. On that front, Vickers created a new position, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and he appointed Mona Fouad, M.D., MPH, director of the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine, to assume that role April 1.
  • In June, the School of Medicine and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology formalized a longstanding collaboration to propel genomics discoveries into clinical practice with the creation of the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine. It's an ideal match, as HudsonAlpha has tremendous depth in genomics and bioinformatics, and UAB is a leader in genetic medicine. Advancing health care through the power of information processing, or informatics, is an important element in Vickers' strategy, and currently he is recruiting for a director of the newly created UAB Informatics Institute.

"Dr. Vickers has set forth a vision for UAB to truly be nationally prominent, and everyone has rallied around that vision," says Toni Leeth, the School of Medicine's assistant dean for Strategic Planning and Administration. "He has made great progress in turning information into transformation."

Vickers previously was the chair of surgery at the University of Minnesota, but he has strong ties to UAB and Alabama. Born in Demopolis and raised in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, the Johns Hopkins University-trained physician joined the UAB faculty in 1994 and directed the Section of Gastrointestinal Surgery from 2000 to 2006 before going to Minnesota.

Check out the video above to learn more about Dean Vickers' background, what led him into medicine, and what keeps him motivated to continue his clinical practice in the face of enormous administrative responsibilities.