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Four new leaders to helm medical school departments

Medicine@Yale, 2016 - Sept Oct


Four departments at Yale School of Medicine have new leaders. They are Lucian V. Del Priore, M.D., Ph.D., of ophthalmology and visual science; Gary V. Desir, M.D., of internal medicine; Linda C. Mayes, M.D., of the Child Study Center; and David G. Schatz, Ph.D., of immunobiology.

Lucian V. Del Priore became chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and chief of ophthalmology at Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH) on July 1. He was recruited from the Medical University of South Carolina, where he had led the ophthalmology department as the Pierre G. Jenkins Chair and directed the Storm Eye Institute. Del Priore, the Robert R. Young Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, specializes in retinal diseases, glaucoma, and vitreoretinal surgery. He helped facilitate the first clinical trial using stem cells to treat patients with Stargardt macular dystrophy and age-related macular degeneration.

In 1982, he received his M.D. with distinction in research from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and then earned a Ph.D. in physics at Cornell University. Del Priore completed an internal medicine internship at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in 1984, followed by a residency in ophthalmology and fellowships in vitreoretinal surgery and glaucoma at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He succeeds interim chair Ron Adelman, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and visual science, and director of the Retina and Macula Center.

Gary V. Desir has been named chair of the Department of Internal Medicine after serving as interim chair since 2013. He is the Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine in the section of nephrology, and also is YNHH’s chief of internal medicine. He serves as board chair for Yale Medicine, the medical school’s recently renamed faculty clinical practice, and holds a secondary appointment at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Desir immigrated from Haiti to the United States after high school. He earned his M.D. from Yale School of Medicine and completed his training in internal medicine and nephrology at YNHH before joining the medical school’s faculty, where he has served as chief of nephrology and chief of medicine at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.

As a physician-scientist, Desir has contributed significantly to understanding mechanisms that regulate body weight and insulin sensitivity. He has delineated the mechanism by which renalase, a growth factor he discovered, protects cells from ischemic and toxic injury, and shown that dysregulated renalase signaling can promote the survival of cancer cells.

A champion of diversity and social justice, Desir is a co-founder of the Minority Organization for Retention and Expansion, a faculty group focused on increasing faculty diversity through mentoring programs and developing social networks.

After a career at Yale spanning nearly three decades, Linda C. Mayes has been appointed director of the Child Study Center and chief of child psychiatry at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. Mayes is the Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology, and serves as Special Advisor to the Dean. Mayes, who is trained as a pediatrician, neonatologist, and adult and child psychoanalyst, earned her M.D. at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. She completed her pediatric internship, pediatric residency, and neonatology fellowship at Vanderbilt before joining Yale in 1985.

Mayes’s research focuses on the stress-response and regulatory mechanisms in young children at both biological and psychosocial risk and the long-term impact of chronic stress and adversity on children’s health and development. She integrates perspectives from psychophysiology, neurobiology, child development, and behavioral neuroscience.

Mayes served as interim chair after Fred Volkmar, M.D., the Irving B. Harris Professor in the Child Study Center and professor of psychology, stepped down as chair.

The incoming Department of Immunobiology chair, David G. Schatz, is already an established leader within the department, having served as vice-chair. Schatz is Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and a professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 1991.

He has made fundamental contributions to the field’s understanding of the mechanisms that assemble and diversify the antigen receptor genes that encode antibodies and T cell receptors. Schatz may be best known for the discovery of RAG1 and RAG2, subsequent biochemical insights into RAG function and evolutionary origins, and important insights into the regulation of somatic hypermutation.

He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale. As a Rhodes Scholar, Schatz studied at Oxford University for two years, earning a B.A. degree in philosophy and politics in 1982. He subsequently entered the graduate program in the biology department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, performing his thesis research with Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, Ph.D., at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and receiving his Ph.D. degree in 1990.

In assuming his new role as chair, Schatz succeeds Richard A. Flavell, Ph.D., Sterling Professor of Immunobiology, who became founding chair of the department in 1988.

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