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Philip Pizzo named dean of Stanford's School of Medicine

Dr. Philip A. Pizzo, physician-in-chief of Children's Hospital in Boston and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, has been selected dean of the School of Medicine, President John Hennessy announced to the Board of Trustees Monday.

"The appointment of Philip Pizzo as dean is a great step forward for the Medical School and for Stanford University. In addition to his enormous talent as a physician and professor, Phil brings a deep humanity and commitment to the study and practice of medicine, traits that are in the best tradition of medical education," Hennessy said.

"These are challenging times for academic medical centers throughout the country. Phil's choice clearly signals that Stanford is ready to take on the challenge. I am confident that Phil, working closely with Vice President Eugene Bauer, will continue to build Stanford's academic and clinical excellence, creating an even higher standard for medical education and quality health care in the next decade."

Bauer called Pizzo "a brilliant clinician and a skilled leader who has high academic standards and a deep understanding of the relationship between the clinical enterprise and the School of Medicine. Phil also has exemplary human values. I look forward to working closely with him as I shift my attention full time to my job as vice president for the Medical Center."

Following the breakup of UCSF Stanford Health Care, Bauer was named vice president for the Medical Center. Since then, he has been serving in that position and as Medical School dean.

"Stanford Medical School is poised to be a beacon of hope in academic medicine because of a community of excellence that brings together physicians and scientists as well as other disciplines within the university," said Pizzo, who will assume his post April 2. "I hope to continue to build on the new alignments currently under way that will permit us to take advantage of discoveries that will improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and create new opportunities for education and training of physicians and scientists who will become the future leaders of this century."

At Children's Hospital and Harvard since 1996, Pizzo has overseen about 250 faculty members and 350 trainees in the clinical and basic sciences divisions, and a budget of about $55 million. He has helped the hospital achieve financial stability by increasing its clinical volume, reducing its debt related to clinical programs, addressing issues related to managed care and negotiating the building of a new research facility.

In addition, Pizzo, 56, has been highly recognized for his contributions as a clinical investigator, especially in the treatment of children with cancer and HIV.

The selection of Pizzo came following a nationwide search by a committee headed by Hennessy and Stephen Galli, professor of pathology and microbiology and immunology.

"I am delighted that Phil Pizzo will be the next dean of the Medical School," Galli said. "From the beginning, the search committee knew it had a difficult task. We were looking for someone who not only had a sophisticated knowledge of the complex relationships among research, education and clinical care, but who also had a track record of advancing these distinct but integrally related missions of academic medicine despite the significant financial challenges that currently face academic medical centers. Given Phil's distinguished record as a clinical investigator, caring clinician and committed educator, I think that this may be the perfect match of an institution and an individual and feel that the School of Medicine is very fortunate that Phil has answered the call to be our next dean."

Harvey Cohen, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford Medical Center, said Pizzo is "thoughtful, considerate and deeply concerned about the issues that affect academics and health care."

Cohen has known Pizzo since 1970, when the two were interns at Children's Hospital in Boston. He recalls being intrigued by Pizzo's frequent note-taking during discussions of patients. "After our internship year, I opened a journal and found an article written by Phil and two of his colleagues at other institutions describing their internship experience. While most of us were struggling to learn, he was already becoming a teacher. It blew my mind," Cohen said.

Ann Arvin, the Lucile Salter Packard Professor of Pediatrics and of Microbiology and Immunology and a member of the search committee for the new dean, noted that Pizzo was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1997.

"His initial career focused on infectious complications in children with cancer, which were at the time managed largely based upon anecdotal clinical experience. His international reputation was built upon the controlled trials he designed and led which produced real data about optimal therapies," she said.

In 1988, Pizzo published the first article in The New England Journal of Medicine on antiviral therapy of HIV in children, which Arvin called "an accomplishment of the highest order." She said he "insisted immediately that AIDS be recognized as a pediatric problem, and that management of this disease in children required rigorous clinical investigation to understand how it differed from adult HIV/AIDS."

Before joining Children's Hospital and Harvard, Pizzo was head of the infectious disease section, chief of pediatrics and also acting scientific director of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Clinical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

In 1990, Washingtonian magazine named Pizzo "Washingtonian of the Year" for helping start the Children's Inn, a temporary home for children undergoing treatment at NIH and their families.

Pizzo comes to Stanford's Medical School just as its facilities are about to undergo a five-year $185 million renovation project. Plans for a major revamping of the school's curriculum are also under way.

"He loves challenges. He's used to problems around hospital finances and the balancing of educational programs and the delivery of critical care," said Richard Tsien, professor of molecular and cellular physiology and another member of the search team. "He's a good learner and his style of leadership is to be extremely compassionate, on top of details but also with an eye to the big picture. He's used to dealing with pressure-cooker situations well."

Tsien said that while Pizzo's emphasis has not been in the basic sciences, "I think he'll be very quick to seek help from the large community of excellent basic scientists here in dealing with their needs."

Pizzo holds a B.A. from Fordham University and an M.D. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, as well as honorary degrees from Fordham and Harvard.

The search committee for the new dean included Hennessy, Galli, Arvin, Tsien and Tom Burdon, cardiothoracic surgery; Patricia Engasser, alumna; Marion Henry, medical student; Charlotte Jacobs, medicine/oncology; Susan McConnell, biological sciences; Oscar Salvatierra, surgery and pediatrics; Matthew Scott, developmental biology; and Paul Yock, medicine and biomechanical engineering. The committee was staffed by Jeff Wachtel, special assistant to the president and provost.


By James Robinson

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