UC Davis School of Medicine is honoring three alumni, a medical resident and a fellow in 2009 for their contributions to the field of medicine and service to the university and the communities it serves.
2009 Transformational Leadership Award
Thomas S. Nesbitt, M.D., M.P.H.
Since his days as a family-practice physician in rural Idaho in the 1980s, Thomas S. Nesbitt has worked relentlessly to improve conditions for rural physicians and their patients. His leadership has placed UC Davis squarely at the national forefront of telemedicine technology implementation.
As the founding director of the decade-old UC Davis Center for Health and Technology, Nesbitt oversees the health system's telemedicine clinical and training programs. He also co-directs telemedicine programs for the UC Office of the President on behalf of the governor's office, and through those and other roles has helped advance implementation of telehealth technologies to respond to the needs he witnessed as a practicing physician.
The School of Medicine has recognized the demonstrable results of Nesbitt's sweeping, visionary work by conferring its Transformational Leadership Award upon him.
"The eminence of UC Davis in telehealth is evidenced by the leadership role of our campus in engaging the California Telehealth Network, and the American Telemedicine Association's President's Award that we received constitutes worldwide recognition of our outstanding program," Nesbitt says.
Nesbitt, who received his medical degree from UC Davis in 1979, was recently named executive director of telehealth services for the California Center for Connected Health. The California HealthCare Foundation established the center to coordinate adoption of telehealth throughout the state. Nesbitt is fulfilling that responsibility parttime, while retaining his UC Davis administrative duties.
Nesbitt, who was recently named associate vice chancellor for Strategic Technologies and Alliances, also works closely with the UC Office of the President, health-care policy leaders and state government officials to implement provisions of Proposition 1D, passage of which in November 2006 authorized expenditure of $200 million in building and equipment funds to the University of California to expand medical education with an emphasis in telemedicine. He is working with several state agencies and foundations to apply for a share of the $7 billion in funding for broadband access and telehealth specified within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – the federal stimulus package – to create a statewide broadband network for telehealth.
That work is being done in his role as co-director of the California Telehealth Network, a statewide project of the Office of the Governor to develop broadband connectivity to extend the reach of telehealth technologies into rural areas. The network, jointly managed by the UC Office of the President and UC Davis Health System, received about $22 million in funding from the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC has allocated $417 million nationwide to create networks under its Rural Health Care Pilot Program.
A professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Nesbitt also is chief scientist for UC Davis in the multi-campus Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, based in Berkeley. Scientists from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz collaborate with industrial researchers from participating corporations to devise novel applications of information technology in response to social, environmental and health-care needs.