Dr. Paul G. Ramsey, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington medical school, has been named vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, UW President Richard L. McCormick announced today (May 29). The appointment, which follows a five-month national search, is subject to confirmation by the UW Board of Regents at its next regular meeting, June 13.
Ramsey, 48, an expert in methods to assess physicians’ clinical competence, has been on the medical school faculty for 17 years, the last seven as head of the school’s largest department (400 full-time faculty and operations totaling more than $126 million per year).
As vice president for medical affairs, Ramsey will provide leadership for the entire UW Academic Medical Center, an entity that includes one of the nation’s top medical schools and an extensive regional program of medical education, research and clinical patient care activities. The position also includes overall responsibility for University of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center, which the UW has operated for King County since 1967, and associated clinics; and oversight responsibility for the planning and delivery of medical services by University of Washington Physicians.
Ramsey will succeed Dr. Philip J. Fialkow, who, along with his wife, Helen, died in an accident last fall while vacationing in Nepal. Dr. John B. Coombs, who has been acting vice president and acting dean in the months since, will return to his position of associate vice president of medical affairs for clinical systems and networks.
Under Ramsey’s leadership, faculty within the Department of Medicine built on a well-established international reputation for depth and breadth of basic science and clinical research programs. Currently, these programs attract some $63 million per year in sponsored research support to the UW and affiliated institutions.
As chair of the Department of Medicine, Ramsey was appointed in 1995 as the first occupant of the school’s Robert G. Petersdorf Endowed Chair in Medicine. Reflecting his dedication to improving the education of medical students and residents, he received the Distinguished Teacher Award from the School of Medicine’s graduating classes in 1984, 1986 and 1987, and the graduating class of 1989′s Margaret Anderson Award for exceptional support of medical students.
“Like his predecessor, Phil Fialkow, Paul Ramsey neither sought this position nor wished to be regarded as a candidate for it,” said McCormick. “Happily, the similarities do not end here: Paul, who regarded Phil as a cherished colleague, mentor and friend, possesses a virtually perfect blend of experience, integrity and leadership to ensure that the University of Washington will remain at the forefront of academic medicine. This is a very happy day for the school and for the University as a whole.”
McCormick also expressed gratitude to Coombs. “At a time of great tragedy that personally touched so many including him, John did not hesitate to step in and provide interim leadership for the Academic Medical Center. He has done so with distinction, and I thank him deeply.”
In all, the nine-person committee McCormick appointed to advise him on the search last January considered 102 individuals, including Ramsey. Two external candidates were invited to visit the UW Seattle campus for formal interviews. Current UW faculty identified by committee members and others as possible contenders for the position were regarded as potential candidates whether they wished to be or not, according to Dr. Paul B. Robertson, dean of the School of Dentistry and chair of the search committee.
Ramsey, who will receive a salary of $200,000, expressed optimism about the future of the UW Academic Medical Center in an era of change in health care delivery and biomedical research. “We have a truly outstanding tradition of excellence in medical education, biomedical research and patient care. With a highly talented and dedicated faculty, wonderful students and excellent staff, I am committed to ensuring that this tradition will continue far into the future.
“I will always be grateful to Phil Fialkow for his success in combining the roles of academic and clinical administrative leadership into one position. I am very committed to both roles, including seeing to it that in the course of fulfilling our multiple missions, the University of Washington remains a provider of world-class primary and specialty patient care.”
Ramsey will be the medical school’s ninth dean. He graduated from Harvard College in 1971 with honors in biochemistry and received his M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School in 1975. He was elected a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. Following his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, he came to the University of Washington as a senior fellow in infectious disease in 1978. He served as chief medical resident at University Hospital (now UW Medical Center) in 1980-81. He joined the UW faculty in 1980 as an acting instructor in medicine. He has been a full professor since 1991.
A highly accomplished scholar and researcher, Ramsey conducted the first large-scale study, taking three years beginning in 1983, of the correlation of physicians’ certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine with excellence in clinical practice. He served as a Teaching and Research Scholar of the American College of Physicians from 1982 to 1985 and received a prestigious Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Faculty Scholar Award in General Internal Medicine from 1987-1992.
In addition to his numerous UW committee memberships, Ramsey is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Federation for Medical Research, the Society of General Internal Medicine, and the Association of American Physicians. He is a member of many national boards and committees for organizations including the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American College of Physicians, the Federated Council of Internal Medicine, and the Association of Professors of Medicine. From 1990 to 1994, he was a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Board of Trustees.
Ramsey is married to Dr. Bonnie Ramsey, UW associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. The couple has two children.
With 1,336 full-time faculty along with 698 medical students, more than 650 residents (physicians-in-training), and nearly 400 graduate students in the basic sciences, the UW School of Medicine ranked first among all public medical schools in receipt of federal grant and contract awards in 1995-96 (about $212 million) and has never ranked less than eighth among all 125 schools in the nation. It also is among the top 10 institutions nationally in technology transfer. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, 21 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 28 members of the Institute of Medicine.