Madara to step down as CEO of University of Chicago Medical Center

August 14, 2009

James L. Madara, MD, will step down from his position as chief executive officer of the Medical Center and Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago on October 1.

While a nationwide search for a new Dean and CEO is underway, Everett Vokes, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine and professor in the Departments of Medicine and Radiation and Cellular Oncology, will serve as interim CEO.

"I am grateful for Jim’s vision and leadership over the past seven years, during which the science, education, clinical and community outreach programs for which he is responsible marked a number of extraordinary achievements, and the Medical Center has defined and pursued a strategy that positions it for success far into the future," said Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago.

Madara, 58, the Sara & Harold Lincoln Thompson Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, will remain on the faculty. One of the nation's foremost academic pathologists and an authority on epithelial cell biology and on gastrointestinal disease, he came to the University in July 2002 as Dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine and University Vice President for Medical Affairs. In 2006, he expanded that role, becoming the first CEO of the Medical Center, which brought together the University’s biomedical research, teaching and clinical activities.

Madara oversaw a significant expansion of the biomedical campus, including the Comer Children’s Hospital, the Gordon Center for Integrative Science, the Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery and, most recently, the New Hospital Pavilion, a $700 million, 10-story, 1.2 million-square-foot facility scheduled for completion in 2013. He recruited many world-renowned physicians and scientists and dramatically increased medical-student selectivity as well as student financial support.

Madara also helped design and launch the Urban Health Initiative, a collaborative effort that brings together the University of Chicago and South Side doctors, nurses, health centers and community hospitals to improve the long-term health of area residents. The UHI now includes almost 30 partner institutions and more than 100 faculty physicians who care for patients in community hospitals and clinics.

"We have made significant advances in all areas of our mission," said Madara. "Many important projects have been completed, and new ones are well underway or poised to begin. I am confident in the strategic course we have charted, the extraordinary quality of our faculty, staff and students, and the commitment of the institution to our priorities. It is time to turn things over to a new leader, who will inject fresh energy and ideas and continue our momentum."

The interim Dean and CEO, cancer-specialist Everett Vokes, 54, is an international authority on the treatment of head and neck cancer, lung cancer and drug development. He is a pioneer in organ-sparing therapies for head and neck cancers, which use combinations of intensive radiation and chemotherapy to bring locally advanced head and neck cancers under control, often without the need for major surgery. He is a prolific researcher and has been principal investigator of the University of Chicago's National Cancer Institute Phase II program, which performs clinical trials of novel anti-cancer agents.

Vokes, the John E. Ultmann Professor of Medicine, also has extensive administrative experience and a deep knowledge of the University. He came to the Medical Center in 1983 as a hematology/oncology fellow and has risen through the ranks, becoming a professor in 1995. He is Deputy Director of the University's Cancer Research Center and vice-chairman for clinical research in the Department of Medicine. Vokes served as section chief of hematology/oncology for many years before being named chair of the Department of Medicine, the largest department at the University, earlier this year.

A message from James L. Madara, MD (PDF)

A message from Robert J. Zimmer (PDF)

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