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UF Health officials announce new position to focus on research, education

University of Florida Health officials have announced the creation of a new executive level position that will focus on advancing the research and education missions of the academic health center.

Thomas A. Pearson, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., senior associate dean for clinical research at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and director of the Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute, has been appointed executive vice president for research and education for UF Health. He will report to David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health. In his new position, Pearson will serve as a catalyst for optimizing approaches to research and education across the colleges, institutes and research centers of the UF Health Science Center, as well as a spark for new ideas.

“Dr. Pearson will head up our efforts to strengthen education and research in the UF Health Science Center, pursuing the most promising opportunities for innovation and excellence in the colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Health Professions and Veterinary Medicine,” said UF President Bernie Machen. “His broad experience as a researcher, professor and administrative leader make him uniquely qualified to inspire and lead advances in both the classroom and the laboratory. I’m confident his efforts will contribute greatly to furthering our efforts toward preeminence among public research universities.”

Taking into account the national and international environments in research and education, and the resources available at UF, Pearson will work with faculty and staff across the Health Science Center and university to further UF Health’s research and education missions.

“For most of my career, I have been fascinated by multidisciplinary research and education as the wellspring for scientific discovery and the creation of new types of leaders in health and science,” Pearson said. “The University of Florida Health Science Center, with six colleges in different health sciences, and two highly rated UF Health systems with the full range of health professions training and practice, is an extraordinary environment poised to seize the opportunities of truly multidisciplinary, collaborative faculty, staff, and students. I certainly considered it too great an opportunity to pass up.”

Direct reports to this position will include the directors of the McKnight Brain Institute, the UF Health Cancer Center, the Institute on Aging, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, which reports jointly to the UF vice president for research; the Institute for Therapeutic Innovation at Lake Nona; and the Center for Pharmacogenetics and Systems Pharmacology at Lake Nona. He also will work with the associate deans for professional education, graduate education and research in the colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Health Professions and Veterinary Medicine.

“Dr. Pearson’s appointment will provide the health sciences with outstanding talent and leadership that should yield new opportunities for our already robust health-related research programs, which account for more than half of our sponsored research funding,” said David P. Norton, Ph.D., UF vice president for research. “I look forward to working with him as we strengthen the UF research portfolio.”Pearson currently is the Albert D. Kaiser Professor in the department of public health sciences and a professor of medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Pearson is also senior associate dean for clinical research at the University of Rochester Medical Center and principal investigator of the CDC-funded Rochester Prevention Research Center. He is principal investigator of the NIH-funded Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Award and directs the Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

“I am very enthusiastic that Dr. Pearson will be joining the UF team,” said Stephen Sugrue, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research affairs at the University of Florida College of Medicine. “This position will help propel UF toward its goal of a top 10 ranking as it integrates research efforts across the Health Science Center colleges, centers and institutes and fosters significant advances in turning scientific discoveries into new therapies.”

Pearson’s major research interests are in the epidemiology and prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, with a special interest in the international trends of coronary heart disease and stroke. He has actively participated in basic science studies, clinical investigations and community-based projects.

“As the experienced director of an institute, Dr. Pearson understands the interdisciplinary nature of our scientists’ research,” said Marco Pahor, M.D., director of the Institute on Aging. “We look forward to continuing to hone our programs with his leadership.”

Pearson received his doctor of medicine, master in public health and doctor of philosophy in cardiovascular epidemiology, all from The Johns Hopkins University, where he also completed residencies in preventive medicine and internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiology. He earned board certifications in internal medicine, preventive medicine and clinical lipidology.

“We are fortunate to have someone with his experience in building multidisciplinary teams,” said David Nelson, M.D., director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. “His leadership will speed our progress to help improve human health through translating scientific discovery into practical applications.”

Pearson is a fellow of the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Preventive Medicine and the American College of Physicians. He has served as a member and chair of committees of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Institute of Medicine, the American Heart Association, and the American College of Cardiology. He also was a member of the advisory group for the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. For the National Forum for Prevention of Heart Disease and Stroke, he served as chair of its board of directors. He currently chairs the Implementation Science Working Group as part of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Guideline Development Program. He has lectured and published extensively on the prevention of cardiovascular disease, at the patient, health care system, community and public policy levels.

“With his unique set of talents, Dr. Pearson will help us continue to make discoveries that will lead to the scientific advances and clinical applications of tomorrow, and train the next generation of health care providers so that we can continue to provide the highest quality care to all patients,” Guzick said.

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