Ralph Snyderman, chancellor for health affairs, dean of Duke's medical school, and James B. Duke Professor of Medicine since 1989, announced plans to step down in June 2004. He has been president and chief executive officer of the Duke University Health System since 1998.
"I have been privileged to serve Duke University and its medical enterprise for the past fifteen years," Snyderman says. "I made this decision last September and discussed my plans with Nan Keohane and several key members of the university and health-system boards. When Nan announced her own decision to leave next June, some people asked about my intentions. I thought it best not to wait until the end of the semester, as I'd originally planned, but instead to coordinate with Nan in telling the larger community what she had discussed with Duke's board of trustees."
" Ralph told me last fall of his decision not to continue for a fourth term as chancellor for health affairs," says Keohane. "I know that he is as committed as I am to making these final sixteen months full and productive. We look forward to doing a great deal more together."
Snyderman, sixty-two, helped guide a number of important initiatives at Duke, including the establishment of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, and the Duke University Health System. A former chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges who also held leadership positions in the Association of American Physicians and the Institute of Medicine, Snyderman has taken an active role in promoting "prospective health care" as a new approach for national health care.
He emphasizes his intention to pursue several key goals during the months before his departure. "Our highest priority now is to continue learning from the tragic death of JÈsica Santill·n, and ensure the highest level of patient safety throughout our health system," Snyderman says. "In fact, we hope our efforts may help produce a national model for patient safety. In addition, we intend to push ahead with our plans to improve health care throughout the Duke system, building on our excellent record of clinical care, research, and teaching. Finally, I'm deeply committed to the concept of prospective health care, which offers so much promise for building on scientific advances to transform medicine and enable people to stay healthy and avoid chronic disease."
It is his understanding, Snyderman says, that Duke's president and board of trustees plan to initiate the search for his successor sometime in the fall, which will enable the new president of the university to participate in the selection process.
He plans to take a one-year sabbatical leave after stepping down and then return to Duke to continue working on prospective health care and other medical issues, as well as to pursue teaching and research.
An immunologist whose research has contributed to the understanding of the precise mechanisms of how white blood cells respond to chemical signals to mediate host defense or tissue damage, Snyderman accepted his first faculty appointment at Duke in 1972. He left Duke in 1987 to oversee medical research and development at Genentech, Inc., returning in 1989 as chancellor for health affairs and dean of the medical school.