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Fitz transitions to global initiative; Thiele named interim EVP, Provost, Dean

Dr. J. Gregory Fitz

Dr. J. Gregory Fitz has stepped down after nearly nine impressively successful years of overseeing UT Southwestern’s academic missions as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School.

While a national search to find a permanent successor for the position is conducted, Dr. Dwain L. Thiele has been appointed Interim Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School.

Dr. Fitz, an internationally known hepatologist who also served from 2003 to 2009 as Chairman of Internal Medicine, will return to the faculty, but under the aegis of the President’s Office, will be taking on a new leadership role with responsibility for developing a broader and more comprehensive global health program for UT Southwestern. He will be expanding the scope of the current program, which has focused primarily on students, to encompass more faculty involvement and to include an array of research programs designed to address global health needs.

“Dr. Fitz has truly transformed the heart of UT Southwestern – our faculty and academic programs,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, who appointed Dr. Fitz to the position in 2009. Dr. Fitz had been serving as Chairman of UT Southwestern’s storied Department of Internal Medicine, after joining the faculty in 2003.

“Dr. Fitz has not only provided outstanding, transformative leadership to UT Southwestern during his years as a leader of our academic enterprise, but he has also been an invaluable institutional leader, working closely with the other Executive Vice Presidents and me on the full range of issues that have been involved in our efforts to serve UT Southwestern faculty, students, and staff and to advance UT Southwestern as a national leader among academic medical centers.”

Among the many distinguished accomplishments during his current tenure, Dr. Fitz led recruitment of 30 new Department Chairs and Center Directors, and fostered the creation of three new academic departments (Emergency Medicine, Biophysics, and Bioinformatics) and several important new centers including the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, and the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine.

Research expenditures have grown to $432 million in FY17, and of the $1.8 billion in grants that have been awarded by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) since 2010, UT Southwestern faculty have received $340 million, or 19 percent of the total funding awarded by CPRIT to Texas institutions. CPRIT grants have been instrumental in the successful recruitment of many new faculty. Dr. Fitz was impressively successful in obtaining funding for scientific equipment and laboratory renovations from the UT System STARs (Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention) Program, which as its name suggests, was established to help UT institutions recruit and retain “star” faculty.

In addition to creating programs to implement strategic priorities in global health and faculty diversity, Dr. Fitz addressed an important institutional priority in overseeing a comprehensive faculty-driven review and revision of the Medical School curriculum. The first class to complete the new curriculum graduates next year, and a centerpiece of the new program will be the state-of-the-art Simulation Center that is scheduled to open this summer as part of the new clinical and academic building under construction on West Campus.

“As important as the tangible accomplishments of Dr. Fitz’s tenure are the values and personal characteristics he has brought to his leadership of UT Southwestern’s academic mission. He has been unwavering in his commitment to the highest standards of academic and scientific excellence and integrity, and at the same time he is also widely known, admired, and appreciated for the personal warmth, good humor, and human interest he brings to his interactions with all members of the UT Southwestern community,” said Dr. Podolsky.

“We are both grateful and fortunate now to be able to rely on Dr. Thiele, whose decades of familiarity with UT Southwestern and national stature among educators will ensure smooth transition for UT Southwestern’s academic mission,” added Dr. Podolsky, who is leading a faculty search committee with input from the broader campus community.

In addition to his new interim duties, Dr. Thiele will continue as Vice Provost and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Initiatives, working in this capacity to expand opportunities for the growth and development of the faculty and for sustaining and further developing the Medical School.

Dr. Thiele has twice been name Teacher of the Year, in 1994 and 2000, in the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Fellowship programs. He has also received recognition from the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the American Association of Physicians. A Professor of Internal Medicine, Dr. Thiele joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 1983 and has served as Vice Chair for Financial Affairs and as Interim Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. He previously served as Chief of Hepatology and as Interim Chief of the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases.

Dr. Thiele has broad interests in clinical hepatology, with special interests in acute viral hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis, and acute hepatitis of unknown etiology. Research conducted in Dr. Thiele’s laboratory focuses on delineating mechanisms of cytotoxic lymphocyte activation, differentiation and effector function, and exploring the role of these immune effector mechanisms in clearance of viral infections from the liver. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, followed by fellowship training in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UT Southwestern.

Dr. Fitz holds the Nadine and Tom Craddick Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Podolsky holds the holds the Philip O'Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Thiele holds the Jan and Henri Bromberg Chair in Internal Medicine.