August 4, 2011

Elasy Named Director of Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health

by Nancy Humphrey

Tom Elasy, M.D., MPH, medical director of the Vanderbilt-Eskind Diabetes Clinic, has been named director of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health.

He replaces Bob Dittus, M.D., MPH, who was recently named associate vice chancellor for Public Health and Health Care and senior associate dean for Population Health Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Elasy, the Ann and Roscoe R. Robinson Professor of Clinical Research, has been a faculty member in the Department of Medicine since 1998 and has spent his career devoted to improving health care for people with diabetes.

Becoming division director is a logical next step, Elasy says.

“It’s a natural extension of what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I hope to improve health care of our patients and this is an important platform. I will continue my focus on diabetes and extend our care and research approach to a number of other chronic conditions. Vanderbilt is a great institution, committed to expanding its public health program.

“The Division is already on such strong footing. I will work with our faculty to augment and accelerate our ability to reach the next phase of our growth,” he said.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Elasy into this new role,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“Tom’s stewardship as medical director of the Vanderbilt-Eskind Diabetes Center has been stellar. Given his strength for programmatic leadership, and history for creating innovative projects with strong patient engagement, I know he will continue to make valuable contributions toward our educational, clinical and research initiatives.”

Department of Medicine chair Nancy Brown, M.D., said that Elasy was the best candidate for division director.

“The Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health plays a critical role in all three missions of the department — patient care, education and research. Tom was the standout as successor to Bob Dittus as division director,” she said.

“He has led efforts to improve the engagement of diabetic patients in their own treatment. He has the vision to build innovative research programs that will impact the quality of patient care and health. The next few years promise to bring new challenges to how we practice medicine and I feel confident that Tom has the experience and insight to anticipate change and to lead with creativity.”

Elasy believes the division has a number of “great opportunities to grow and succeed,” building on an already solid foundation with its programs in primary care, palliative care, geriatrics, med-peds and hospital medicine, as well as a growing primary care presence in Williamson County and a top-notch faculty of more than 100 members.

The division provides leadership for many teaching programs within the medical school, internal medicine residency program, and the division's three fellowship training programs.

Research programs include health services research, clinical epidemiology and outcomes research, behavioral medicine, quality improvement in health care, drug addictions, pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics, chronic disease management, and innovations in medical education.

One of the first items on Elasy’s agenda will be to fill the Anderson Spickard Chair in Addiction Medicine and to provide additional support to an already strong Geriatrics program.

The division will also be growing the palliative care and hospitalist programs.

Elasy will continue his research in diabetes studying the phenomenon of “relapse” — a rise in blood glucose levels in patients who previously had good blood glucose control.

The research hopefully will help doctors determine what type of care, delivered at what intensity, what frequency and what duration, can achieve long-term control of diabetes in the clinic setting.

Elasy earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland and was a resident and chief resident in medicine at the University of Colorado. He received his fellowship training and earned his master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar.

Elasy will continue to serve as medical director of the Diabetes Clinic until a new medical director is named.

“While I’ll step away from some of the day-to-day operational responsibilities, my engagement with the diabetes community will continue.”

Elasy and his wife, Kate, have three sons, 12, 10 and 8.