New dean has big goals for Carver College of Medicine

BY ANNA EGELAND | JULY 23, 2012 6:30 AM

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Debra Schwinn said one of her first orders of business as the new dean of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine is to take interdepartmental training to a national level.

"This is an absolutely terrific school of medicine … I think we have a chance to move to the national level on interdepartmental training," she said.

UI officials announced Debra Schwinn as the next dean of the medical school on July 19. Schwinn is currently the chairwoman of the Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine Department, an Allan J. Treuer endowed professor, and an adjunct professor of pharmacology and genome sciences at the University of Washington-Seattle.

She will begin her work at the UI on Nov. 1, taking over for former Dean Paul Rothman, who took a new position July 1 as dean and chief executive officer of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Schwinn said she looks forward to being in a place with top-notch research and a close-knit environment.

"I've also lived all around the country … It's like coming home to the Midwest," she said, noting that she grew up in Ohio.

Following Rothman's departure, Donna Hammond took over temporarily as dean of the medical school on July 1. Hammond joined the college in 2000 as a professor, and until 2010, she served as the interim head of the Pharmacology Department.

Hammond said her temporary position allowed her to learn even more about how the medical school functions.

"I liked being on the learning curve …" she said.

Hammond said she will act as Schwinn's second-in-command in November.

"Part of my position is to help her get situated, to get her boots on the ground," she said.

One of Schwinn's goals is to maintain the medical school's status as a national leader.

"We have to stay a national leader … no matter how health care changes," she said.

Schwinn comes to the university with a wide range of awards and leadership positions, including 2012-2014 head of the Board of Trustees for the International Anesthesiology Research Society.

"Dr. Schwinn is a highly successful clinician, educator, and researcher," UI Provost Barry Butler said in a press release. "We are absolutely delighted that she has agreed to join the faculty of the University of Iowa and to lead the world-renowned UI Carver College of Medicine."

Sue Curry, the dean of the UI College of Public Health, said Schwinn has a strong background and a lot of experience.

"Dr. Schwinn has an outstanding background in academic medicine," Curry said. "She has a lot of leadership experience."

Curry said she expects to work with Schwinn on facilitating collaborative research.

"All of the deans work together with the provost to set the direction and vision for the continued growth and excellence of the university," Curry said.

Schwinn said she was attracted by the UI's top-10 public medical school, so making the decision to come to here an easy one. Despite her excitement about the position, she said, listening to the faculty and staff will be essential in learning about the position.

"Whenever you come to a new place, it's important to bring more ideas, but it's also important to listen," she said.

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