Jack A. Elias, M.D., the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine and chief of the Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, has been named chair of the medical school’s Department of Internal Medicine.

Elias, a leading authority on the molecular basis of asthma and other lung disorders, will lead the school’s largest department, with 351 full-time faculty and $83 million in research funding.

“Jack Elias is the perfect candidate for chair of medicine. His credentials are impeccable,” says Robert J. Alpern, M.D., dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine. “Jack is an outstanding scientist who has published his work in the best scientific journals, but in addition he is an outstanding teacher and clinician. The pulmonary division at Yale, which Jack has supervised for many years, has produced outstanding basic and clinical research, educational programs and patient care.”

After receiving undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Elias was an intern and resident at Tufts-New England Medical Center. He returned to Penn as a senior resident, completing a fellowship in pulmonary medicine.

Elias held a series of academic appointments at Penn, and came to Yale in 1990 as professor and chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine.

He is the author of more than 160 original journal articles and is co-editor of the textbook Fishman’s Pulmonary Diseases and Disorders.

Elias’s research, which is funded by several grants from the National Institutes of Health, is focused on the cellular and molecular biology of the lungs and the mechanisms of lung injury and repair.

His research group has developed and studied genetic models of asthma, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis and acute lung injury which have revealed potential drug targets to treat these illnesses. More than 50 scientists now working in academia and industry were trained by Elias, and he has seven patents or pending patents based on his research.

Elias has been a member of the Association of American Physicians since 1998 and a councilor since 2003. He has held more than a dozen posts for the American Thoracic Society/American Lung Association, including chairmanship of its long-range planning and scientific advisory committees and of the Scientific Assembly on Allergy, Immunology and Inflammation. He is also a participant in strategic planning for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Elias succeeds David L. Coleman, M.D., professor of medicine, who has served the department as interim chair since 2003. In October, Coleman assumed the chairmanship of the department of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.