Thomas Lawley named interim dean of School of Medicine

Thomas J. Lawley, executive associate dean of the School of Medicine and chair of the Department of Dermatology, has been named interim dean of the medical school and vice chair of the Emory System of Health Care, effective May 14, when current Dean Jeffrey L. Houpt steps down from the deanship and begins a research sabbatical.

Charles R. Hatcher Jr., vice president for Health Affairs and director of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, said "I am especially pleased Dr. Lawley has agreed to assume this role, because I believe he has the experience and ability to provide an almost seamless transition period for our medical faculty and students while a national search identifies a permanent dean." Hatcher expects a permanent dean to be in place by September, a few months after Michael M.E. Johns, dean of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, arrives to fill the vice presidency and other positions Hatcher will vacate upon his retirement.

Stability for the school is Lawley's goal as well. "Emory's medical school has been in a pattern of tremendous growth in the past few years, with a quadrupling of applications, a doubling of research dollars, and large and successful changes in how we deliver health care," he said. "It's important there be no loss in that momentum during the changing of the guard in the medical school and in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. I have enjoyed greatly my work as executive associate dean this past year, and I look forward to continuing the teamwork I have established with the medical chairs and faculty to assure the school stays on its upward trajectory."

A widely-respected clinician and teacher and a nationally-known researcher, Lawley spent the early years of his career as an investigator, then senior investigator at the dermatology branch of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH). He came to Emory in 1988 as professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology, charged with rebuilding a department in disrepair. Under his leadership, the faculty rapidly grew from three to 18, and the department went from no NIH funding to become the third highest NIH-funded dermatology department in the nation.

Dermatology also became one of the most interdisciplinary of Emory's departments. The NIAMS Emory Skin Disease Research Core Center, a highly successful skin disease program established by Lawley and co-workers and funded by NIH, involves more than 40 investigators from 10 basic science and clinical departments. A growing melanoma center brings together dermatologists with five other specialists within the Winship Cancer Center. In 1993, Lawley was named William Patterson Timmie Professor in recognition of his contributions to the school.

-- Sylvia Wrobel

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