PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University announced today that it has appointed Dr. Jack Elias, a physician-scientist specializing in immunobiology and pulmonary medicine, as its seventh dean of medicine and biological sciences. Elias, who is currently chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and physician-in-chief of Yale-New Haven Hospital, will begin his work at Brown Sept. 1, 2013.
Brown President Christina Paxson said Elias, whose recent honors include election to the Institute of Medicine and the presidency of the Association of American Physicians, brings great experience in teaching, research, patient care, and administration to the Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown. The division includes five campus-based biology departments and the Warren Alpert Medical School.
“I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Elias to Brown at an especially exciting time for the University,” Paxson said. “Our medical school and research programs, for instance in brain science, are experiencing significant growth, and soon we will embark on a new strategic plan to continue this momentum. As an internationally recognized biomedical researcher, educator, administrator, and practitioner, Dr. Elias is a wonderful addition to our leadership team.”
In a professional career spanning more than 30 years since earning his bachelor’s degree and M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, Elias has cared for patients with a wide variety of lung ailments and injuries and has conducted research on conditions including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, pulmonary fibrosis, and the effects of smoking.
With consistent support from the National Institutes of Health, Elias has trained scores of young researchers and published more than 200 original peer-reviewed research papers. He has also frequently earned funding from industry and private foundations and holds several patents with many more pending.
Elias brings to Brown extensive administrative experience in academic medicine. He has directed outpatient clinics and intensive care programs and other clinical services and has served on many key administrative and academic committees at the Yale School of Medicine. He has served as chair of medicine and physician-in-chief at Yale-New Haven hospital since 2006.
A new leader
Elias said he hopes to build on the high quality of scholarship and patient care in Brown’s academic medical center.
“It is a real pleasure and honor to join the Brown biology and medical community,” Elias said. “We live in an age where the biologic sciences are exploding with new knowledge, the building blocks of disease pathogenesis are being discovered, new therapeutics and approaches to disease are developing at an unparalleled pace, and health care is undergoing unprecedented alteration.
“I look forward to working with our medical and biology faculty and students as well as all other Brown faculty and our hospital and community partners to continue to strengthen the outstanding traditions of Brown in education, research, and clinical care.”
Elias will succeed Dr. Edward J. Wing, who became dean in 2008 and will step down from the position July 1. During those five years, the Alpert Medical School expanded the class size to 120, opened the school’s first dedicated home at 222 Richmond St., and completed new affiliation agreements with the Lifespan and Care New England health care systems.
Brown Provost Mark Schlissel will serve as interim dean until Sept. 1, when Elias arrives. Schlissel, himself a physician-scientist, led the nationwide search that culminated in hiring Elias. Schlissel praised Elias as a model researcher and clinician with great ambitions for the division.
“Dr. Elias understands Brown’s strengths and potential and will devote his considerable acumen and energy to help us achieve that future,” Schlissel said. “I and the other members of the committee were impressed by his passion for building upon the excellence of our programs in medicine and biology.”
Schlissel also thanked the search committee whose members included Dr. Timothy Babineau, president and CEO of Lifespan, president of Rhode Island Hospital, and professor of surgery; Katherine Bergeron, professor of music and dean of the College; Dr. Jeffrey Borkan, professor and chair of family medicine; Wayne Bowen, professor and chair of molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology; Honora Burnett, medical student class of 2015; Dr. Penelope Dennehy, professor and vice chair for academic affairs in pediatrics; John Donoghue, professor of neuroscience and director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science; Dr. Jane Eisen, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior; Dr. Galen Henderson, trustee emeritus and medical school alumnus; Dennis Keefe, president and CEO of Care New England; Kimberly Mowry, professor and chair of molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry; Dr. Louis Rice, professor and chair of medicine; Dr. Sharon Rounds, professor of medicine and chief of medical service at the Providence VA Medical Center; and Dr. Ira Wilson, professor and chair of health services, policy, and practice.
Welcomed by hospital partners
Keefe of Care New England, which operates the Brown-affiliated Women & Infants Hospital and Butler Hospital and plans to acquire Memorial Hospital of Pawtucket, said he looks forward to working with Elias. “It is my distinct honor to have taken part in the selection process and to welcome Dr. Elias to his new role. Dr. Elias brings us tremendous depth and breadth of experience from a world-renowned academic medical center which, along with his personal style, will take our partnership to a new level and create a new vision for academic medicine in Rhode Island. I could not be happier with this choice.”
Babineau of Lifespan, which operates the affiliated Rhode Island Hospital, E.P. Bradley Hospital, and The Miriam Hospital, praised the new dean as a strong leader amid great change in medicine. “These are challenging times for academic healthcare systems nationwide. Dr. Elias has a distinguished track record of leading complex academic organizations, and I look forward to working closely with him to advance our mutual goal of delivering world-class healthcare right here in Rhode Island.”
Elias, who was born in Fayetteville, Ark., is married to attorney Sandra Gross Elias. They have a young adult daughter, Lauren Rachel Elias.