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  F E A T U R E S  
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  FEATURES
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GETTING TO KNOW CLAIRE POMEROY

Getting to know Claire Pomeroy: A new Dean tackles the health system's new challenges

 "" PHOTO  Claire Pomeroy
 
Claire Pomeroy
   

Claire Pomeroy is clearly looking forward to her new job. Effective Feb. 1, 2005, she becomes vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis. The combined position replaces that of the medical school dean, held since 1997 by Joseph Silva, Jr.

Pomeroy appears relaxed and her eyes sparkle as she looks at the road ahead.

"I am very excited about this opportunity," she says. "The health system is such an exciting place to be, surrounded by excellence and with a momentum that will take us far."

Pomeroy, who will oversee the $777 million UC Davis Health System, joined the School of Medicine as executive associate dean in January 2003. She is also a professor of infectious diseases and of microbiology and immunology.

Preparing for the future

A little more than a year ago, UC Davis leadership put together our strategic vision for our future as a university community. It is designed to help focus our current efforts and give priority to the actions most necessary for achievement of our three primary goals of learning, discovery and engagement.

UC Davis Health System is a critical component of our vision and the creation of the vice chancellor position underscores its important role in every facet of our plan — from its engagement of the community though exceptional patient care and its economic impact on the region to the advancement of knowledge and sharing of bench-to-bedside discoveries.

The newly designated position recognizes that the financial, administrative and academic functions of a major academic medical center must be managed in concert for continued achievement. It ensures our ability to withstand future challenges and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

The health system and the university are most definitely "on the rise" in meeting our academic, financial and public service goals. It is a perfect time for Claire Pomeroy to step into this new role, and I welcome the perspective and experience she brings.

Despite the institution's current success, challenges beyond our control are on the horizon, potentially jeopardizing our future. For the health system in particular, the cost of health care and the burden of state and federal regulations are of enormous concern. The demand for indigent care continues to grow as we face declining resources in providing that care. Implementation of legislated seismic safety standards, as well as other regulations, place considerable financial burdens on the teaching hospital at a time when research, education and patient care require significant infrastructure expansion.

Weathering these external forces requires coordinated and deft management that the vice chancellor role and Dr. Pomeroy can offer.

Dr. Pomeroy, in her previous role as executive associate dean of the School of Medicine, spearheaded the development of the health system's strategic plan, which reflects and further carries out the university's strategic vision. She now will lead the effort to implement the health system's plan.

As the governing body of the health system, I am extremely proud of this institution. I look forward to its continued success.

Virginia S. Hinshaw Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor UC Davis

She has played a leading role in developing a new strategic plan for the UC Davis Health System, one that integrates the missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement within the school and medical center.

"The overall mission of UC Davis Health System is, quite simply, discovering and sharing knowledge to advance health," says Pomeroy, looking over at the draft document on her desk, that was awaiting her final approval. "That really says it all, doesn't it? There are lots of hospitals and clinics in the area that provide patient care, but we're discovering and sharing. That is what makes a university medical center so special."

From bench to bedside

An active researcher herself in infectious diseases, Pomeroy is a strong proponent of translating basic research findings into improved clinical care.

"I am committed to providing the resources — laboratory space, the latest research equipment and the best faculty — needed for cutting-edge innovation," she says. "And we will always focus on how these discoveries will help make doctors and patients everywhere better."

She points to the newly designated General Clinical Research Center funded by the National Institutes of Health as an important stimulus to scientific investigation. A partnership between UC Davis School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Northern California Healthcare System, the facility is already a boon to researchers and to community members, who can now more easily participate in clinical trials.

The new Clinical Research Investigator Services Program (CRISP) is another major effort to promote discovery — it is aimed primarily at younger faculty members to allow them to more easily translate probing clinical questions into innovative research. Pomeroy, who studies host defense mechanisms of cytomegalovirus in a mouse model, is pleased that UC Davis Health System recently passed the goal of $100 million in research funding and is rapidly moving up in NIH rankings.

Fine-tuning patient care

Pomeroy takes pride that UC Davis Health System is well known for its compassionate, state-of-the-art clinical care. The adoption of a formalized clinician/patient communication program promises that patient satisfaction will continue to be a high priority. The program helps caregivers communicate effectively with patients and their families, ensuring that all parties share health goals and work together to meet them.

Patients also will benefit from the health system instituting electronic medical records, assuring that patient medical information is available when needed.

Excellence in education

Pomeroy is already working on a big change in the education arena — all four years of the medical school curriculum will move to Sacramento. The new education building will be a critical hub for the 140-acre medical campus.

"It is so important to have the older students on hand to serve as role models," she says. "This will allow us to truly integrate the basic sciences with clinical experiences."

Challenges to meet

Pomeroy looks squarely at the many challenges in health care at the institutional, national and global levels.

"There are so many challenges in our community," she says. "How do we address disparities in access to health care? How can we assure that our emergency department always stays open?

"Just in infectious diseases, you don't have to look farther than the newspaper to see there are huge problems — SARS, West Nile virus, influenza, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and AIDS," she ticks off. "We need new answers and new ways to protect the community."

But far from appearing bent from shouldering such an enormous burden, Pomeroy continues to look straight ahead and confident. "We are taking a leadership role," she says. "We are making sure that all our brainpower is working together to make an impact on these challenges. We have the right resources to make progress."

She says that the founders of the medical school would "be amazed and fulfilled about how far we've come from our origins in the 1960s. We're recognized for excellence and national prominence," she says proudly. "We are a regional and national treasure — we make this a better community in which to live."

Before moving on to her next meeting, Pomeroy emphasizes that School of Medicine alumni are partners in her endeavor. "Tell the alumni we need their involvement," she says. "I hope they're as excited as I am with our growth and excellence. I look forward to working with them — we have an exciting future together."

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  "The overall mission of UC Davis Health System is, quite simply, discovering and sharing knowledge to advance health. That really says it all, doesn't it?" — Claire Pomeroy  
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