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Nephrologist Robert Alpern Named Dean of Yale School of Medicine

April 30, 2004
by Thomas Conroy

President Richard C. Levin announced today the appointment of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Dean Robert Alpern as dean of the Yale School of Medicine.

Alpern, who will assume the deanship at Yale June 1, is the Ruth W. and Milton P. Levy, Sr. Chair in Molecular Nephrology at Southwestern. He joined Southwestern as chief of nephrology in 1987 and became dean in 1998. He served his internship and residency in internal medicine at Columbia University and held a postdoctoral fellowship in nephrology and renal physiology at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, where he also was an assistant professor of medicine from 1982 to 1987. Alpern received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in 1972 and his M.D. from the University of Chicago in 1976.

"Dr. Alpern has a most impressive record of leadership at Southwestern in research, education and patient care," Levin said. "He has the intelligence, clarity, openness and integrity to be a superb dean of the School of Medicine."

Alpern's research has focused on the regulation of kidney transport proteins. In his early years his work helped to define the mechanisms by which the kidney transports acid. Subsequently his research has focused on the mechanisms by which kidney cells sense excess acid and initiate a signaling cascade that alters the expression, cellular location, and function of many proteins in the cell, resulting in enhanced acid transport and urinary excretion.

Nationally, Alpern has been elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and now serves on the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. He was on the Council of the American Society of Nephrology from 1995 to 2002 and served as its president in 2001. He has served as editor and been on the editorial boards of numerous journals, including the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the American Journal of Physiology and the Annual Review of Physiology.

Alpern has been honored for his teaching, both at the University of California, San Francisco and at the University of Texas Southwestern. At Southwestern, he received the Internal Medicine House Staff Outstanding Teaching Award in 1990.

Alpern served as chair of the Southwestern admissions committee from 1996 to 1998. During this time, the Hopwood court decision, prohibiting the use of race and ethnicity in admissions, became law in the state of Texas. Alpern developed a race neutral admissions policy that maintained and expanded diversity in the medical school class.

As dean, Alpern has had an outstanding record in developing the scientific strength of the faculty while improving the educational program and increasing the quality and volume of clinical services.

Levin thanked Acting Dean Dennis Spencer, the chair of neurosurgery, for his service in the past year. "In addition to keeping a host of existing projects and programs on track, he has launched initiatives to stimulate clinical research, including a seed fund for translational research projects and a faculty committee on clinical investigation. The attention, care, commitment, and passion that he has always brought to the practice of medicine were amply reflected in his role as steward of the school," Levin said.

Alpern is married to Patricia Preisig, a professor of internal medicine at Southwestern Medical Center. They have two children, Rachelle and Kyle.

The Yale School of Medicine has been among the nation's preeminent medical centers since its founding in 1810. Its researchers have made major contributions to public health by isolating the polio virus; promoting the early use of cancer chemotherapy; adding to the arsenal of AIDS medications; developing a promising Lyme disease vaccine; discovering genes that contribute to skin cancer and high blood pressure; and making strides in diagnosing and treating Parkinson's disease, depression and other mental disorders. Yale is in the top rank of American medical schools in research funding granted by the National Institutes of Health. The dedicated staff of 4,000 professionals is committed to the education of leaders in American medicine, the pursuit of pioneering advances in basic science and clinical medicine, excellence in patient care, and contributions in public health.


Tom Conroy

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Submitted by Liz Pantani on September 25, 2012