UC Davis on Tuesday named a new vice chancellor for human health sciences and medical school dean: Julie Freischlag, a professor, department director and surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
Said UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi in a news release, “When Dr. Freischlag became surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins, she became the first woman to hold this position. Throughout her career, she has served as a role model for her students, a respected colleague within the medical community, and a proven leader in advancing excellence and promoting health and wellness.
“As we grow our mission of national recognition in areas like food and health, she was our unquestioned vision of someone who would take us to new heights.”
Freischlag will replace Claire Pomeroy, now president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit organization that supports and promotes medical research. She led the health system and med school for seven years.
Freischlag’s career has taken her to UCLA (three times), UC San Diego and Wisconsin before Johns Hopkins.
“I was so impressed with the people at UC Davis — clinicians, researchers, teachers, administrators, trainees and students — the energy was amazing, and I am excited to be able to become part of it,” Freischlag said in the news release. “As many know, I was trained and also worked in the UC system, so it is delightful to come back.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, in 1976, and her medical degree from Rush University in Chicago, in 1980, Freischlag served as an adjunct assistant professor of vascular surgery at UCLA Medical Center and assistant professor in resident at UC San Diego Medical Center. She completed her surgical residency and post-residency vascular fellowship at UCLA.
At the Medical College of Wisconsin, she served as a professor surgery, vice chair of the vascular surgery section and chief of surgery at Zablocki VA Medical Center.
From 1998 to 2003, Freischlag was a professor, chief of the division of vascular surgery and director of the Gonda (Goldschmied) Vascular Center David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. From there, she moved to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
She is the editor of Archives of Surgery, a major surgical journal, and serves on the editorial boards of Annals of Vascular Surgery, Journal of the American College of Surgeons and the British Journal of Surgery.
She is a fellow, former governor and present chair of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons, the first woman to hold that position. She is the current president of the Society for Vascular Surgery — also the first woman to hold the title.
Freischlag has published more than 150 manuscripts, numerous abstracts and book chapters, according to Johns Hopkins, and is recognized as an expert thoracic outlet syndrome: a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves between the collarbone and first rib become compressed.
She also has served as principal investigator for a national study of abdominal aortic aneurysms, which can cause life-threatening bleeding.
Her alma maters have recognized her as an outstanding alumna, she has been named a Baltimore Magazine “Top Doctor,” and she was selected in 2010 by Working Mother Magazine as one of the “10 most powerful moms in health care.”
Katehi, Diana Farmer, chair of the UCD surgery department, and representatives from the faculty, community and the health professions were on the search committee.
Freischlag will take over on Feb. 10. Thomas Nesbitt is serving as interim vice chancellor and dean since spring 2013. Nesbitt, a UCD grad and telemedicine expert, will resume his position as associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances.
“I am most grateful for the calm and respected leadership that Dr. Nesbitt provided in this interim period,” Katehi said. “As we welcome our new vice chancellor and dean, he will ensure the continuity of excellence already found at UC Davis and help us grow toward the new future we anticipate under Dr. Freischlag’s guidance.”
As vice chancellor, she will oversee the UCD Health System, which has an annual budget of $1.4 billion and more than 12,000 faculty, staff and students. It includes the UCD Medical Center, UCD School of Medicine, Moore School of Nursing and the 1,000-physician UCD Medical Group.
Under Pomeroy’s leadership, the School of Medicine tripled its outside research funding and dramatically increased the philanthropic support. She oversaw the establishment of new programs, including the Institute for Regenerative Cures and nursing school, and other programs, like the Comprehensive Cancer Center, rose in stature.
Pomeroy’s tenure was clouded, however, by the actions of two neurosurgeons, J. Paul Muizelaar and Rudolph Schrot, who infected three brain-cancer patients with bowel bacteria in a failed effort to save their lives in 2010 and 2011.
The surgeons did so with the patients’ permission but without proper university or federal approval. The pair resigned in August after a UCD investigation ruled that they had violated the school’s code of conduct.
— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden