University of Rochester Names Community and Preventive Medicine Chair

June 24, 2008

Susan G. Fisher, M.S., Ph.D.

Susan Gross Fisher, M.S., Ph.D., has been appointed chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, effective July 1, 2008.

An accomplished researcher and expert in cancer epidemiology, Fisher has been serving as interim chair of the department since July of 2007. She succeeds Thomas Pearson, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., senior associate dean for clinical research, who led Community and Preventive Medicine during the past decade through a period of tremendous growth. Pearson has been on sabbatical for a year, as a visiting scientist at the National Human Genome Research Institute.

“Dr. Susan Fisher has made significant contributions in the very areas this department needs to build upon, following Tom Pearson’s extraordinary tenure as chair,” said David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “She was a central figure in creating a new medical school course that opens the double-helix curriculum, winning accolades from students; she created and successfully implemented a Ph.D. program in epidemiology; she is a key-function co-director for the Clinical Translational Science Institute in biostatistics and epidemiology; she won the support of her faculty while serving as interim chair of CPM; and she presented an exciting vision for the department’s future during the search process. We are very pleased to implement the search committee’s recommendation to appoint Dr. Fisher as chair.”

Prior to her appointment, Fisher served as associate chair for research, director of the doctoral program for epidemiology, and division chief of epidemiology in Community and Preventive Medicine. Under her leadership, New York state approved a University doctoral program in epidemiology that was developed by Fisher. In 2004, she also received the Graduate Education Faculty Teaching Award at the University of Rochester.

“Dr. Fisher is a superb educator,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “We are very fortunate that she will be training the next generation of epidemiologists and health services investigators here.”

In addition, Fisher is an independent National Institutes of Health investigator, with a research focus on viral etiologies of cancer. Current funding addresses lymphoma epidemiology, specifically related to pathogens that contribute to the development of that type of cancer. She is also collaborating on a national study of head and neck cancers, and in July will receive a Presidential Citation for her work.

“Speaking for the search committee, we are pleased that Dr. Susan Fisher has been selected to be the next chair of Community and Preventive Medicine,” said James R. Woods, Jr., M.D., the Henry A. Thiede professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and chair of the CPM search committee. “This decision completes an exhaustive, nine-month national search. Dr. Fisher’s prior roles as division chief of epidemiology and then interim chairperson of the department have prepared her well to lead this extraordinary department. In short, she is the right person at the right time, for all of the right reasons.”

Fisher earned her Ph.D. in cancer epidemiology at the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in biostatistics from Georgetown University, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing and business from Johns Hopkins University.

She and her husband, Richard I. Fisher, M.D., director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center of the University of Rochester Medical Center, came to Rochester in 2001 from Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.

“I look forward to serving as chair of this unique department that includes such a talented, diverse team of faculty, staff and students, Fisher said. “With them, I am committed to building an interdisciplinary, translational research agenda that will integrate a public health perspective into the signature programs of the URMC strategic plan. I will also be working to increase the national recognition and visibility of our departmental graduate programs while expanding cross-campus and trans-institutional education initiatives.”

Fisher has received numerous honors, awards and professional appointments throughout her career. Recently she was selected to participate in The Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women, which prepares the country's most promising women in science and medicine for leadership roles.

In 2001, she was invited to serve on a special panel for the Institute of Medicine immunization committee, which was investigating vaccine safety. She is currently on the editorial board at two scientific journals, Journal of Clinical Oncology and Leukemia Research. She has published numerous scientific studies, abstracts and book chapters.

Fisher has three children and resides in Pittsford. The Department of Community and Preventive Medicine houses 47 full-time faculty and staff and many secondary faculty in the public health disciplines, as well as three master’s degree programs and two doctoral programs.

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