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Newly appointed Ob/Gyn chair has deep roots at Yale

Medicine@Yale, 2012 - Nov Dec


At the beginning of October, Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., took up his new posts as chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the School of Medicine and chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale–New Haven Hospital (YNHH). With plans that include new cross-disciplinary clinical programs and translational research, Taylor aims to further strengthen an already highly regarded department.

“I’m inheriting a department with a fabulous reputation and legacy,” Taylor says, noting that Yale’s past achievements in Ob/Gyn include major advances in fetal heart monitoring, obstetric ultrasound, and in vitro fertilization (IVF). “I’m very fortunate to have taken on the role of chair in a department that has trained more leaders in the field than any other Ob/Gyn department in the country.”

As a former resident and fellow at Yale, Taylor is himself one such leader. Colleagues spotted his promise early. Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., recalls a conversation some years ago with Charles Lockwood, M.D., Taylor’s predecessor as chair, now dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for Health Sciences at The Ohio State University. “Charly told me that someday, when he left or retired, I would do a national search, and after I had looked at candidates all across the country, I would appoint Hugh Taylor as the next chair,” Alpern recalls with a laugh. “And that’s exactly what happened. We’re absolutely delighted.”

Alpern says that Taylor is “spectacular” and brings a unique constellation of talents to the job. “He’s a great clinician, great teacher, and an outstanding researcher. He’s got it all, in addition to being an incredibly nice person, and he’s quite mature administratively for someone who hasn’t been a department chair yet.”

That maturity may be owing to Taylor’s national leadership experience. Among other positions, he is a member of the boards of directors of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation and of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, both premier organizations in the field. He also served for two years as clinical director of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the nation’s most important group of IVF professionals, and he is editor of the journal Reproductive Sciences.

In addition to seeing patients, Taylor has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 20 years for his research into endometriosis, adult stem cells, and reproductive developmental biology, among other areas. He has also long been a lauded mentor to students, residents, and faculty.

Taylor has deep Yale roots. He graduated from Yale College and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, then completed his residency at YNHH in 1992. Pursuing parallel careers at bench and bedside at the School of Medicine, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology as well as a fellowship at Yale’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI). He has been a Yale faculty member since then, going on to serve as chief of REI. During his six-year tenure in that position, Taylor turned around REI’s fiscal deficit and expanded its patient volume, range of services, and IVF success rate, positioning REI as a national leader in the field.

To his new job, Taylor brings a slew of ambitious goals. He plans to expand the department’s research efforts in translational medicine, such as research in cancer genomics that may lead to personalized treatments. Also on his agenda is improved clinical care through collaboration. Already hard at work to create a cross-disciplinary incontinence program, Taylor plans to organize medical teams for other challenging clinical problems. “We’re working with pediatrics and pediatric surgery to increase our offerings in fetal therapy,” he says, “and collaborating in maternal-fetal medicine with neonatology, to be more closely aligned on high-risk pregnancies and in the neonatal intensive-care unit.” This multispecialty approach, he says, is the future of medicine. “Rather than be siloed into departments, we bring all the different areas of expertise that might have relevance to a patient’s disease together under one roof.”

Taylor plans to act on YNHH’s recent acquisition of the Hospital of Saint Raphael (see related story) to strengthen the department’s relationships with community Ob/Gyn physicians. He will also recruit new faculty leaders and expand the department’s involvement with international capacity-building.

“We’ve got tremendous opportunities, starting on a fabulous foundation,” he says. “I hope to be able to take the department to even greater heights.”

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