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New chairs named at School of Medicine

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2007 - Winter


Several new appointments at the medical school were announced last summer and fall, with new leadership in the Department of Internal Medicine, the Child Study Center, the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and the Department of Laboratory Medicine.

Jack A. Elias, M.D., the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine and chief of the Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, was named chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, effective October 1. 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, $83 million in research funding and $45 million in clinical activity. Elias, who came to Yale in 1990, is the author of more than 160 original journal articles and 200 abstracts. He is also a co-editor of the fourth (2007) edition of the leading textbook in the field, Fishman’s Pulmonary Diseases and Disorders. His research focuses on the cellular and molecular biology of the lung and processes related to both injury and repair of lung tissue. Elias has studied asthma, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, respiratory syncytial virus infection and acute lung injury.

Elias succeeds David L. Coleman, M.D., HS ’80, former interim chair, who left Yale to become chair of medicine at Boston University.

Fred R. Volkmar, M.D., a leader in the field of autism research, was named director of the Child Study Center and chief of the Department of Child Psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital for a three-year term, effective July 1, 2006. The center is a national and international leader in the field of children’s mental health. Its programs in early childhood development, childhood trauma, Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mental retardation, autism and other pervasive developmental disorders are national models. Volkmar, the Irving B. Harris Professor in the Child Study Center and professor of child psychiatry, pediatrics and psychology, came to Yale as a fellow in 1980 and joined the medical school faculty two years later.

An editor of the Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (3rd ed., 2005), Volkmar was the primary author of the autism section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (DSM-IV), published in 1994. This month he became editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the field’s oldest academic journal. Volkmar has also made major contributions to the 2001 monograph, Educating Children With Autism, written for the Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism of the National Research Council. He succeeds Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D., who had served as director since 2002.

James C. Tsai, M.D., M.B.A., was named chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, effective October 1. Tsai was associate professor of ophthalmology and director of the glaucoma division at the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He succeeds M. Bruce Shields, M.D., who had served as chair since 1996.

Tsai’s goal for the department is to make it an internationally recognized leader in patient care, vision research and medical education. He plans to recruit clinicians and basic scientists with a focus on translational studies.

His investigations have concentrated on three areas related to glaucoma: the search for molecules with the potential to protect the optic nerve from damage directly without lowering intraocular pressure, the evaluation of surgical outcomes in glaucoma patients and the development of advanced techniques of vision testing.

Tsai is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American College of Surgeons and the Royal Society of Medicine in the United Kingdom.

Brian R. Smith, M.D., has been named chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and chief of laboratory medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital. His three-year term began on July 1. Smith has served on the Yale faculty since 1989. His research interests in basic and translational science center on the biology of the inflammation-coagulation interface. Since 1997, Smith has served as vice chair of the department, which is a major center for research, patient care and teaching in laboratory medicine. The department has one of the few National Institutes of Health research training grants in transfusion medicine and hematopathology. The department performs nearly 5 million clinical tests each year.

Smith succeeds Peter I. Jatlow, M.D., HS ’65, who had headed the department since 1984.

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