Stephen Dewhurst Named Vice Dean for Research at UR School of Medicine and Dentistry

May. 1, 2013
Also Appointed Associate Vice President for Health Sciences Research at UR
Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., has been named vice dean for research at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. A faculty member since 1990 and past senior associate dean for basic research, Dewhurst will lead the School’s research strategic planning process and help advance its research priorities by identifying areas of excellence in which to make strategic investments; strengthening the research infrastructure; improving education and training; and promoting collaborations and alliances that will result in increased research funding.
The new position was recommended by a faculty-led strategic planning committee headed by Dirk Bohmann, Ph.D., and Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D. As vice dean for research, Dewhurst will work closely with the senior associate deans for basic and clinical research, J. Edward Puzas, Ph.D., and Thomas A. Pearson, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., to accomplish these goals.
“There’s no doubt that this is a challenging time in science: Researchers are faced with an extremely competitive funding environment and a scientific landscape that is changing more rapidly than ever before,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “We take these issues very seriously and believe Steve will help leadership and faculty respond to these challenges. With a wide-ranging understanding of research and an outstanding track record of organizing successful institutional collaborations, he is the ideal candidate for the job.”
Complementary to his role as vice dean for research at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Dewhurst has also been appointed associate vice president for health sciences research at the University. In this position he will work directly with Robert Clark, Ph.D., senior vice president for research at UR, to create and implement a university-wide research strategic plan.
“Steve is well known and well liked across the entire campus. He’s also extraordinarily knowledgeable, talented and highly productive – all the things you’d search for in a collaborator,” said Clark. “The University is very fortunate to have Steve and I look forward to working with him on shaping our research enterprise.”
Dewhurst’s other responsibilities as vice dean for research include chairing the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Scientific Advisory Council – a new faculty-led group that will advise the dean on strategic planning, core facilities and funding priorities. He’ll also serve as the link between University Advancement and researchers, helping share the School’s exciting scientific vision with University alumni, family and friends.
“The world of health care, including medical research, is headed into uncharted territory,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “We need to continually evaluate our scientific position and make sure we spend our time and energy in the most effective way. Having Steve at the helm to evaluate our efforts on an institutional level and facilitate communication between faculty and leadership will be a huge asset to us.”
As changes in technology – like the use of supercomputers to analyze vast quantities of data – transform the way science is done, it’s essential to modify the School’s graduate program curriculum. Dewhurst will explore current offerings and recommend new courses to ensure our students get the best education and training possible. Given the growing difficulty of securing positions in academic medicine, he will evaluate how we can train students for a broader range of careers.   
Finally, Dewhurst will facilitate the development of new collaborations and partnerships that will diversify the School’s research funding. He says that funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health are increasingly moving towards large, milestone-driven grant awards and contracts that require interdisciplinary expertise. Putting successful teams together is not a trivial task and requires the broad institutional knowledge that Dewhurst has gained after more than 23 years in Rochester.
“Steve is someone who can mediate and integrate: He’s very efficient at bringing different groups of people together and keeping them focused. He’s also a respected scientist who keeps his feet wet in the lab,” noted Bohmann, professor in the Department of Biomedical Genetics. “He’s got the organizational talents, a broad vision and commands the respect of the research community, which is why he’s perfectly qualified for this job.”  
“Through thoughtful planning and by exploiting our culture of collaboration I’m confident we will be very successful in a time when other institutions that are less collaborative and less nimble will suffer,” said Dewhurst, who will remain chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “I am very excited about this new role and want to do all that I can to allow our faculty to succeed in these challenging times.”