Chancellor Chosen

Dzau: medicine’s new leader

Dzau: medicine’s new leader. Photo: Chris Hildreth


Victor J. Dzau, a distinguished physician-scientist and academic and administrative leader at Harvard

University's medical school and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, is Duke's next chancellor for health affairs. Dzau, age fifty-seven, succeeds Ralph Snyderman, who stepped down at the end of June after fifteen years as the university's senior medical official.

The chancellor for health affairs also serves as the president and chief executive officer of the Duke University Health System (DUHS). President Nannerl O. Keohane says the executive committee of Duke's board of trustees unanimously approved the selection of Dzau, an authority in cardiovascular diseases who has also been a leader in administering large health-care organizations, treating patients, and educating students. Dzau was recommended to the board by Keohane and president-elect Richard Brodhead, following a national search by a fourteen-member advisory committee that reviewed more than seventy candidates. Brodhead took office as Duke's ninth president July 1; Dzau, who reports to Brodhead, also started on July 1.

"Duke has a reputation for excellence and innovation in medical care and research that is envied across the nation and around the world," says Dzau. "The schools of medicine and nursing are strong and have been well-led, and they provide an excellent foundation on which to build even greater strength. The health system has weathered a difficult period, like hospitals everywhere. Each of the system hospitals--Duke University Hospital, Durham Regional Hospital, and Raleigh Community Hospital--is providing superior clinical care. It will be a privilege to work with my health system and university colleagues and to lead this strong medical enterprise."

Dzau was the Hersey Professor of the theory and practice of medicine at Harvard Medical School, chair of the department of medicine, and physician-in-chief and director of research at the Brigham and Women's Hospital. He was also senior academic officer, director of academic collaborations, and a member of the board of trustees for Partners HealthCare System, which includes the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and several other hospitals and physician organizations in the Boston area.

The author of ten books and more than 225 articles on cardiovascular disease and related topics, Dzau is known for research that encompasses molecular and cellular biology, genomics, and the potential of new gene- and cell-based therapies. He has served as an editor for numerous scientific journals and as a scientific adviser and board director for biotech companies. His extensive academic activities include strategic planning for stem-cell research at Harvard, medical research at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and genetic and genomic research at Harvard Medical School and Partners HealthCare System.

Dzau, now a U.S. citizen, was born in Shanghai. He received his B.S. and medical degrees from McGill University in Montreal. After interning at New York Hospital, he became a resident at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (the predecessor of the Brigham and Women's Hospital), where he was promoted to chief resident physician in 1979. He then held a variety of senior clinical and academic positions at the hospital and at Harvard Medical School. In 1990, he moved to Stanford University's medical school, where he was the William G. Irwin Professor of medicine and chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine, and was later promoted to Arthur Bloomfield Professor and chair of the department of medicine. In 1996, he returned to Harvard Medical School and to the Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Dzau has held numerous leadership and advisory positions with the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, and other medical and scholarly organizations. His many honors range from election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to honorary degrees from leading universities in Argentina, Brazil, and the Republic of China.

Dzau and his wife, Ruth, have been married for thirty-one years and are the parents of two daughters: Jacqueline, who will be entering Harvard Medical School in the fall, and Merissa, a student at the University of Rochester. Ruth Dzau is the president of The Second Step, a nonprofit charitable organization that provides transitional programs and housing for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

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