New med school dean and health sciences VP announced

Brooks Jackson, currently at John Hopkins School of Medicine, will take the role.

Kia Farhang

Dr. Brooks Jackson will serve as the next University of Minnesota Medical School dean and vice president for health sciences, the University announced Thursday.

Jackson currently directs the pathology department at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He served his residency at the University of Minnesota Medical School and was an assistant professor in the school from 1985-89.

Pending approval from the University’s Board of Regents, Jackson will replace Dr. Aaron Friedman, the current dean and vice president, in February. He’ll earn an annual salary of $725,000. Friedman, who’s served in these roles since 2011, earned an annual salary of $425,000.

“We’re very excited to be able to attract a leader of Dr. Jackson’s caliber,” University President Eric Kaler told reporters Thursday. “It’s an incredibly important hire.”

The vice president for health sciences oversees the six schools in the Academic Health Center, including the Medical School.

Jackson said he’ll make it a point to balance his attention between all of the schools.

“I want to make sure that all the health sciences are successful, not just the Medical School,” he said.

An external review of the AHC last year reported that the combined post of Medical School dean and vice president for health sciences could lead to a conflict of interest or be a job too big for one person.

But Kaler, who has expressed support for the dual position in the past, said the responsibilities of the two jobs don’t justify separate full-time positions.

“It is a big job, but it’s a job that’s manageable by someone who has organizational skill as Brooks does,” he said at the press conference.

Jackson said assigning both positions to one person will make it easier for the health sciences to work together and face the rapidly changing health care system.

“I think we’re going to undergo more change in the next 10 years than we have in the last 100,” he said.

Reserving both jobs for one person also dovetails with Kaler’s goal of streamlining the University’s administrative functions, the president said.

Legislators have scrutinized the University’s administrative spending in the past, but a University-contracted consulting firm determined the institution’s spending to be within “healthy” levels.

Priorities

The University plucked Jackson from a final list of three candidates, all of whom gave public interviews last month.

Kaler said the University looked for four main qualities in candidates: strong scholarship, leadership experience, understanding the missions of the Medical School and the AHC, and understanding the University’s relationship with Fairview Health Services.

The University, Fairview and University of Minnesota Physicians entered into an agreement in March that unified the academic aspects of each organization under common leadership.

Fairview declined to consider a proposed merger with the University earlier this year.

Kaler said he’d like to see Fairview and the University move closer to a full partnership.

“We have to make sure our incentives are aligned,” Jackson said.

Reaching for funding

Johns Hopkins University’s pathology department rose from fifth to first nationwide in National Institutes of Health funding under Jackson, according to a University of Minnesota press release.

In his public interview, Jackson said he thought the University had the potential to crack the list of the top 10 or 15 institutions receiving NIH funding in the next decade.

The University currently ranks 18th in NIH funding.

Jackson said private donations rivaled public funding in some of his years at Johns Hopkins.

But attracting private money to the University may be more difficult, he said.

“Sometimes I think that the public feels, ‘Well, it’s a public institution,’”he said. “‘So it’s already funded to some extent.’”

Reaching out to patients, alumni and Twin Cities businesses will be key in attracting private dollars, Jackson said.

University of Minnesota Physicians CEO Dr. Bobbi Daniels, who served on the search committee for the positions, called Jackson the ideal candidate for the job.

“I don’t think people can understand how outstanding Dr. Jackson really is,” she said. “We’re so lucky to have been able to attract him.”