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Leadership Q&A with Dr. Eric Peterson

Around Campus

Eric Peterson, M.D.
Eric Peterson, M.D.

Dr. Eric Peterson joined UT Southwestern in November as the inaugural Vice Provost and Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research. He also serves as Vice President for Health System Research and holds the Adelyn and Edmund M. Hoffman Distinguished Chair in Medical Science. In these new roles, Dr. Peterson is working to enhance UT Southwestern’s growing clinical research enterprise and achieve new levels of excellence across the organization.

Prior to coming to UT Southwestern, Dr. Peterson spent more than 25 years at Duke University, where he was the Fred Cobb Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology and served as Executive Director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute. An internationally acclaimed leader in cardiovascular research, Dr. Peterson has been published in over 1,400 peer-reviewed articles and ranks among the top 1 percent of highest-cited researchers in the world.

What are your goals in this new role?

My first goal is to get to know the existing researcher community and culture here to better understand both existing strengths and future opportunities for improvement. Second, I plan to work with leaders from across the organization to develop a unified vision of the future of clinical research at UT Southwestern. In parallel, I’ll be actively recruiting faculty and staff to deliver on our future goals.

As the fourth largest market in the U.S., do you see Dallas-Fort Worth as fertile for fast growth of clinical research?

Absolutely! Between William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, Parkland Memorial Hospital, and Children’s Health, as well as the broader Texas Health Resources health system, we have remarkably large and diverse patient populations to study and learn from. Additionally, we have great opportunities to take these learnings and apply them back to improve clinical care and, ultimately, enhance medical outcomes of patients.

What convinced you to join UTSW?

I had been at my home institution for my entire career, but the opportunities to contribute to transformational change in clinical research at UT Southwestern were just too great to pass up. I truly see UT Southwestern at an inflection point with regard to clinical research. The institutional leadership is committed to transformational change – I wanted to be part of that.

Where do you see the most potential to grow our clinical research?

Fundamentally, I believe that data science will be key to the success of all areas of science across the research spectrum. From basic and translational research to clinical and population health studies, all researchers can benefit by having leading computational, data science, and analytics capacities. Additionally, UT Southwestern health care will strive to be the model for integrating novel discoveries back into practice, remembering that the real goal of research is to improve the lives of our patients. The field of implementation science – the study of methods to promote the adoption and integration of evidence-based practices, interventions, and policies into health care and public health settings – shows great promise for an institution as big and diverse as ours.