Message from the UA Senior Vice President for Health Sciences

Mar 3, 2014

‛Never Settle’:  AHSC Moving Forward on Number of Strategic Initiatives

Through six months on the job as senior vice president, I remain greatly impressed by the breadth and richness of the programmatic activities of our health sciences faculty, students and staff.  The spring semester has been filled with a flurry of activity as we quickly move forward on our statewide plan to significantly advance the Arizona Health Sciences Center – in research, patient care, education and service.

With many of our efforts now in full gear, I plan to provide monthly updates to keep you apprised of major activities and initiatives aimed at achieving our goals set forth in the December State of the UA Health Sciences address and fulfilling our role in the University’s Never Settle Strategic Plan.

As you recall, in December, I convened advisory councils in four key research areas: Health Disparities, Precision Health, Neuroscience, and Population Health and Health Outcomes. Drawing faculty members from across both the Tucson and Phoenix campuses, and involving 11 UA colleges, the councils are charged with evaluating our internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as outside threats and opportunities in their respective areas. Each council then will offer recommendations to advance the UA’s distinction and national reputation in the given domain. I am grateful for the enthusiasm and energy exhibited by advisory council members as their respective councils have met regularly and engage in robust discussion to strategically strengthen and expand our basic, clinical and translational research programs.

Their recommendations – which may range from investing in new equipment to pursuing grants to recruiting thought leaders to join the AHSC team – are expected at the end of March. These deliberations, created by the UA thought leaders within each advisory council, will help guide our growth and development in these four areas and ensure their success – to be measured by significant increases in biomedical research funding by 2023. Information on the councils can be found online at: I am planning an AHSC town hall later this spring to share these findings with AHSC and Main Campus faculty members.

A key goal outlined at our December AHSC Town Hall, is to recruit leading health scientists and scholars to help lead our efforts to advance AHSC.  I am very excited to announce the appointment of three exceptionally talented individuals:

  • Don Saner, MS, joined AHSC Feb. 10 as associate chief knowledge officer and executive director for biomedical informatics services.  Don joins us after working more than 20 years at the University of Chicago, where most recently he was director of clinical and translational informatics services.  Working with Yves A. Lussier, MD, FAMCI, (associate vice president for health sciences and chief knowledge officer), Don will facilitate the development, programming and evaluation of clinical/translational informatics systems, analytical tools and business intelligence solutions. This will include responsibility for directing the design and implementation of specialized databases, tools and applications that support clinical and translational research.  
  • Kenneth S. Ramos, MD, PhD, PharmB, will start March 17 as associate vice president for precision health sciences. He will be responsible for developing precision-health strategies and approaches to health outcomes and health-care delivery. He also will lead development of personal diagnostics and therapeutics for complex diseases. Dr. Ramos previously was at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, where he served as distinguished university professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and director of the Center for Environmental Genomics and Integrative Biology. He is a leading expert in the study of gene-environment interactions and personalized and genomic medicine.
  • Jason X.J. Yuan, MD, PhD, will join us May 1 as associate vice president for translational health sciences. In this role, Dr. Yuan will be responsible for leading the development of translational health strategies, as well as efforts to improve and expedite the conduct of AHSC research and create nurturing research environments for training physician-scientists. Dr. Yuan is a professor of medicine, pharmacology and director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Translational Research Program, Institute for Personalized Respiratory Medicine, at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In addition, two longtime AHSC leaders have accepted important new roles in my office:

  • As you know, Steve Goldschmid, MD, who has served as dean of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson more than five years, accepted a new role as associate vice president for clinical affairs at AHSC and vice president of physician services at The University of Arizona Health Network. Dr. Goldschmid will provide senior leadership in developing clinical practice strategies and opportunities for our health colleges. In his UAHN role, he will serve as a key member of the UAHN executive team, with involvement in health system strategic planning, clinical quality and patient safety, accreditation of programs and financial management and oversight.
  • Sally Reel, PhD, RN, FNP, BC, FAAN, FAANP, associate dean for academic practice, and clinical professor at the UA College of Nursing, will begin a new position March 17 as associate vice president for health sciences interprofessional education, collaboration and community engagement. In this role Dr. Reel will accelerate the development of interprofessional education and training programs that sustain the pipeline of academically oriented health professionals. She also will develop and manage external relationships critical to the successful implementation of interprofessional education and collaborative-practice programs.

I am especially grateful to Andy Theodorou, MD, and Ernie Schloss, PhD, for their interim leadership of the Interprofessional Education & Practice (IPEP) program.  Through their leadership, IPEP has developed novel interprofessional curricula and team-based practice opportunities for health sciences faculty, students and other learners.  With this foundation in place, under Dr. Reel’s leadership, AHSC is uniquely poised to accelerate the development of interprofessional education and training programs that sustain the pipeline of academically oriented health professionals.

Finally, my sincere thanks to the many AHSC and Main Campus faculty, staff and administrators who have supported important initial efforts to advance our health sciences center. In the coming months, we expect to reach many significant milestones as we move toward our goal to become a premier U.S. academic health center. I want you to know that your continued support and involvement will be absolutely critical to our future success.

Joe G.N. "Skip" Garcia, MD
UA Senior Vice President for Health Sciences