Photo of Dean Pamela Davis

Medicine Dean Pamela B. Davis reappointed; chooses to step down June 30, 2020

President Barbara R. Snyder and Provost Ben Vinson III today announced the reappointment of Pamela B. Davis as dean of the School of Medicine and senior vice president for medical affairs.

Davis, who has led the school since 2006, has accepted this reappointment but will return to the faculty after two years to be able to have more time and flexibility for other ventures.

“Pam has guided the school through profound financial challenges, catalyzed strong progress in research and education, and played a pivotal role in our work with Cleveland Clinic on the Health Education Campus,” President Snyder said. “She has brought enormous intellect, energy and dedication to every aspect of her role, and I deeply appreciate all that she has contributed to the school and broader university.”

“This academic year marks an enormous milestone for our university,” Provost Vinson said. “We will continue to educate our current health sciences students, even as we prepare to launch an academic program that will be unprecedented in the extent of its collaboration among disciplines, and in its use of some of the world’s revolutionary technology. In Pam, the medical school will have a leader who has been part of this project from the start, and who has been a seasoned member of the faculty for more than three decades. I am grateful for her continued service.”

Snyder and Vinson said that the university will conduct a national search for a new dean next year.

An internationally renowned cystic fibrosis researcher and member of the National Academy of Medicine, Davis became interim dean in 2006 and, after a national search, assumed the permanent role a year later. Davis moved quickly to strengthen the school’s financial management and reduce costs—and also brought in significant financial support.

Soon after her appointment, for example, the university announced that the medical school had won the single largest federal health grant Northeast Ohio had ever received: a 2007 award of $64 million that involved the region’s major hospitals and focused on getting research discoveries to patients. Davis was lead author on the grant proposal, and also served as the project’s principal investigator. That grant has been renewed twice since—tallying a total of $178 million to improve Northeast Ohio’s health.

The dean’s tenure also has seen the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center earn two major federal grant renewals, including, this year, its highest-ever rating and largest award. In addition, the school launched a $21 million Institute of Computational Biology with funding from Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals to capitalize on growing opportunities to glean insight from electronic health records and other sources of big data.

“As I considered my three goals at the initiation of my deanship 12 years ago, I realized that together we have made tremendous progress on each of them,” Dean Davis said. “Our goals, articulated in our strategic plans, were to secure our position among the top medical education programs in the world, to bring our discoveries forward to patients and to improve the health of the community.”

In the education space, the school is poised to enter a new phase of interprofessional education. Case Western Reserve’s schools of dental medicine, nursing and medicine—including the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine program—will welcome more than 2,000 students to the Health Education Campus (HEC) in the summer of 2019. Faculty and staff will begin to move in earlier that year, and already have been working to develop a robust program of interprofessional education to take full advantage of the stunning shared space.

One of the most exciting new educational programs featured at the HEC will be holographic anatomy. In collaboration with Cleveland Clinic, the medical school had the chance to work with Microsoft in 2015 on its then-secret mixed-reality device, HoloLens. A medical school team developed an entire anatomy curriculum using the technology. Pilot studies with students have shown excellent comprehension in about half the time of the traditional cadaveric approach. This component, combined with novel radiologic anatomy and living anatomy modules, will create an entirely new anatomy experience for students.

During Davis’ tenure, medical school admissions have grown more selective even as class size has expanded. Funding for research has increased to include far more non-federal support. In bringing discoveries to the clinic, the number of startups emerging from research breakthroughs has grown dramatically—including seven in this fiscal year, a new record.

Based on its strengths in research and education, the medical school ranks 25th in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report, and first in Ohio.

The medical school also expanded and deepened its engagement with the community, from the work of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods to the Urban Health Initiative, as well as several grants through the Patient-Oriented Outcomes Research Institute. These and other programs have helped increase vaccination rates, raise awareness and availability of healthier food choices in the city, and significantly improve the treatment of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

More recently, the school has forged a closer alliance with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, where faculty have emerged as co-leaders of the Health Improvement Plan-Cuyahoga, which includes more than 100 Cleveland organizations. The school has been particularly active in First Year Cleveland, an unprecedented alliance of city, county and state organizations to reduce infant mortality rates.

“One of Pam’s greatest strengths has been her ability to manage the innumerable details of a nearly $500 million organization while also positioning the school to be a leader in educational and research innovation,” said W.A. “Bud” Baeslack, who served as provost for 10 of the dozen years Dean Davis has led the medical school. “Her commitment to the school, university and greater Cleveland community—as well as her impact on them—has been exceptional.”

Key to much of the school’s progress has been its dramatic success in fundraising. As of the end of this fiscal year, the medical school had raised more than $600 million for the capital campaign, including six consecutive years of new annual attainment records. This past year also saw record giving from alumni and a record tally for the school’s annual fund.

Based on the school’s progress over the past 12 years and the impending move to the HEC, Davis said that June 2020, seemed an apt time for a transition that will allow her to pursue academic projects that have not been possible while she served as dean.

“I appreciate the ongoing support of President Snyder for the work that remains to be accomplished,” Davis said. “I look forward to working with her and our terrific faculty, staff, and students, and with the help of our alumni and friends, in the years to come.”