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Brown named chair of Department of Medicine

BY: NANCY HUMPHREY AND JOHN HOWSER

8/19/2010 - Nancy Brown, M.D., associate dean for Clinical and Translational Scientist Development, the Robert H. Williams Professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, has been named chair of the Department of Medicine.

Brown succeeds Eric Neilson, M.D., who stepped down as chair in January after leading the department for 12 years.

Nancy Brown, M.D.

Nancy Brown, M.D.

Brown becomes only the eighth chair of the department since 1925.

“Nancy is one of our best and brightest, long demonstrating the highest level of skill balancing the roles of clinician, scientist and administrator. Whether caring for patients, mentoring students or participating in key leadership roles, she personifies excellence,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“The role of the chair of the Department of Medicine is critical to our overall mission to provide the very best in patient care and training the next generation of physicians. I have great confidence Nancy will improve upon the high standards we have already set.”

Brown said she is excited about leading Vanderbilt's Department of Medicine with more than 650 faculty assigned to 14 academic divisions and several interdisciplinary research centers.

“The Department of Medicine is extremely strong,” she said. “Under Eric Neilson's leadership it grew to be one of the top 10 Medicine departments in the country. With a combination of excellence and innovation, we are poised to impact on health care, as well as discovery, and I look forward to working with others to do this.”

Brown, a specialist in vascular biology and hypertension, earned her A.B. degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University and her M.D. with honors from Harvard University. She completed medicine and clinical pharmacology training at Vanderbilt, where she was the Hugh J. Morgan Chief Resident in 1992, then joined the faculty that same year. She was named chief of Clinical Pharmacology in January 2009.

Together with the late Thomas Hazinski, M.D., she founded the Vanderbilt Master of Science in Clinical Investigation program in 2000 in order to train investigators in the techniques and processes utilized in patient-oriented research. In her associate dean role, she established the Elliot Newman Society to nurture the development of physician-scientists at Vanderbilt.

Her many awards include the American Society of Hypertension Young Scholar Award, the American Federation for Medical Research Outstanding Investigator Award, the American Heart Association Harriet Dustan Award and the Grant W. Liddle Award for outstanding contributions in clinical research and Elaine Sanders-Bush Award for mentoring, both from Vanderbilt. She was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2003 and the Association of American Physicians in 2008.

Brown is an associate editor for the journal Hypertension and has served on numerous program committees, review panels and study sections for the National Institutes of Health, the American Society of Hypertension, the American Heart Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

In her research, Brown has focused on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, one of the body's blood pressure-regulating systems. Her discoveries have had major implications for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

“The Department of Medicine plays such a vital role in our organization, and to our clinical operations,” said C. Wright Pinson, M.D., MBA, deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and senior associate dean for Clinical Affairs. “With the selection of Nancy, a highly talented physician, scientist and administrator, we gain the advantage of one of our own who instantly and intimately understands the significant importance of the department's role in our overall mission.”

The department experienced tremendous growth under Neilson's leadership. The clinical practice revenues increased 295 percent, and research funding from the National Institutes of Health increased 475 percent, to $135 million this year. The department's faculty grew from 270 to nearly 650 over the last decade.

Brown's appointment comes after a comprehensive search by a 16-member committee chaired by Jonathan Gitlin, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Child and Maternal Health and the James C. Overall Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics.

“On behalf of the search committee, we are truly delighted with this inspired choice of Nancy Brown as chair of Medicine. Nancy is the consummate academic leader with an impeccable track record in scholarship, teaching and mentoring and clinical care. Her dedication to the highest standards of excellence in each of these areas and her deep commitment to Vanderbilt make her the ideal choice to serve as the next leader of our extraordinary and world-class Department of Medicine,” Gitlin said.

Allen Kaiser, M.D., vice chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Medicine and chief of staff for Vanderbilt University Hospital, has served as interim chair since February.

“I cannot imagine a better qualified person to chair a Department of Medicine — anywhere — than Nancy,” Kaiser said. “I have had the opportunity to meet with her and learn firsthand of her priorities and vision. It's going to be an amazing next chapter for the Department and Medical Center.”

Brown is married to Andrew May and they have three sons, Dan, 21; Ike, 18; and Sam, 14.

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