The University Record, January 14, 2002

Omenn steps down as executive vice president of medical affairs

From Health System Public Relations

Dr. Gilbert Omenn will complete his term as the University’s first executive vice president for medical affairs (EVPMA) at the end of the current academic year, effective July 31, 2002.

Omenn said that, after a year’s leave providing “opportunities to delve more deeply into life sciences development and science and health policy issues,” he intends to take up a faculty role at the University.

“The EVPMA was a new position at the University and Gil helped to define it,” outgoing President Lee C. Bollinger said. “He has devoted himself entirely to the University and to the Health System, a massive undertaking given the scope of our medical center. We are indebted to him for his dedication and his contributions.”

Bollinger noted that Omenn has achieved many critical objectives for which the position was created and he was recruited in 1997:

  • Creating a vision of an integrated health system and assuring excellence and synergy across the Medical School, the hospitals and health centers, and M-CARE, with strong leadership in each unit.

  • Helping develop the plans for a major investment in the life sciences, assisting with recruiting faculty directors and assuring a leading role for the U-M in the state’s Life Sciences Corridor.

  • Strengthening the faculty and the faculty research support mechanisms in the Medical School, with the notable creation of the Biological Sciences Scholars Program, the Center for Clinical Investigation and Therapeutics and the Bioinformatics Program.

  • Laying the groundwork for a decade-long capital expansion program, including the Biomedical Sciences Research Building, ambulatory and major surgery expansion, Cardiovascular Center, replacement hospital for children and women, Depression Center and an expanded Kellogg Eye Center. These capital projects are in addition to investments in annual capital renewal and an improved clinical information system.

  • Progressively enhancing the national standing for the Hospitals, Medical School and M-CARE, all of which have notably improved their national rankings, and working with faculty across the campus to gain more recognition for individuals (for example, 13 new members were elected to the Institute of Medicine from the U-M in the past four years).

  • Managing this complex enterprise at a time of extraordinary financial stress, regionally and nationally, so that the hospitals and health centers, the Medical School and M-CARE are all financially sound, increasing their business and serving patients, students and members very well.

    “Gil has been rigorous and energetic, especially in enhancing the academic core of the Medical School and in strengthening its academic focus,” Bollinger said. “In addition, the Health System’s financial stability is a significant accomplishment for which Gil deserves great credit and our thanks. And, of course, he has represented the University as a national spokesperson on important current issues including health care and the life sciences.”

    “I am proud to have been President Bollinger’s first recruit,” Omenn said. “It has been a pleasure to be working so closely with so many able colleagues on the faculty and staff of the Health System, throughout the University and in the larger community. I have learned a lot and given maximal effort.

    “This is a full-immersion position. I am delighted to continue working to achieve the major objectives we share during the transitional leadership under Joe White as interim president. Then I will welcome the opportunity to really delve into scientific and policy problems of great interest to me.”

    Omenn, who also holds the title of professor of internal medicine, human genetics and public health, was appointed EVPMA in September 1997. He came to the U-M from the University of Washington, where he served as dean of the School of Public Health. He was associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget during the Carter administration, and was chairman of the Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management in 1994—97.

    Omenn was a National Institutes of Health Research Career Development Awardee, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and founding director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Washington. His research has involved the chemoprevention of cancers, genetic predisposition to environmental and occupational health hazards, and application of genetic concepts and protein, DNA, and pharmacogenetic techniques to the brain. Other interests include health promotion for older adults, science-based risk analysis and the ethical, legal and public health policy aspects of genetics.

    Omenn holds a B.A. degree from Princeton, an M.D. from Harvard and a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Washington.