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Cynthia J. Johnson, PhD
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Kevin J. Foyle, MBA, CFRE
Vice President
for Development

New Leadership Appointments Announced for Medical School, Dental Branch, CCTS

Published: January 15, 2009 by


David McPherson, M.D., a longtime funded National Institutes of Health (NIH) researcher and leader in the field of cardiology, focusing on targeted molecular imaging and drug and gene delivery, has been appointed chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

David McPherson, M.D.

David McPherson, M.D.

"Dr. McPherson will provide the leadership to take his department to the next level, although it is not a one-person job. He will have to rely upon his chiefs, and recruit and engage strong leaders. I believe he has the qualities to bring people together: he is driven, a team player and effective at recruitment. I am certain he will contribute to the growth of internal medicine," said Giuseppe Colasurdo M.D., dean of the UT Medical School at Houston.

"For the Department of Internal Medicine at the medical school, I want nothing but the best. I would like to see us become a top-tier nationally ranked department by the Association of American Medical Colleges. A few short and long term goals include: aggressively growing our clinical practices, obtaining further NIH funding and strengthening our partnerships with the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and the Harris County Hospital District," said McPherson, professor and division director of cardiology at the UT Medical School and chief of cardiology at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-TMC.

CCTS Announces Two Executive Appointments

McPherson also was appointed executive director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Roberta Ness, M.D., M.P.H., was named co-director. Ness is the dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health.

Roberta Ness, M.D., M.P.H.

Roberta Ness, M.D., M.P.H.

The CCTS was created in 2006 with a $36 million, five-year-grant from the National Institutes of Health to transform how clinical and translational research is conducted and to ultimately enable researchers to provide new treatments more efficiently and quickly to patients. The center is operated by the UT Health Science Center at Houston, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System.

"We are delighted that two outstanding translational researchers - Drs. McPherson and Ness - have agreed to accept the responsibility for leading the program," said Peter Davies, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for research at the health science center. "Dr. McPherson's broad experience in cardiology research and biomedical engineering qualify him as an outstanding leader. Dr. Ness is a nationally-recognized leader in women's health issues."

Mc P h e r s o n' s appointment began Sept. 1 and Ness' appointment Nov. 1. They will be joining the third member of the CCTS senior management team, codirector Razelle Kurzrock, M.D., professor of medicine and chair of the Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics (Phase I Clinical Trials Program) at the UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

McPherson and Ness are filling positions formerly held by internists Frank Arnett Jr., M.D., and Pablo Okhuysen, M.D., who stepped down this fall to devote more time to research in their laboratories. "They were both instrumental in UT winning the NIH grant. Once we received the grant, they helped shape the foundation of an outstanding program," Davies said.

"It is exciting that we now have the talents of Dr. McPherson and Dr. Ness at the CCTS," said Okhuysen, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the UT Medical School. "Their leadership will help advance the CCTS to the next step in its mission, which is to take research being done at laboratory benches to the bedside and into the community."

Ness earned her medical degree from Cornell University and her master of public health degree in epidemiology at Columbia University School of Public Health. She taught at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty in 1993 at the University of Pittsburgh. She was named chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in 2003. She is the president- elect of the American College of Epidemiology and the Society for General Internal Medicine's 2008 Distinguished Professor of Women's Health.

Fenton to Lead Department of Pediatric Dentistry at UT Dental Branch

Sanford J. "Sandy" Fenton, D.D.S., has a vision for the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at The University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston that includes initiating an infant oral health program and expanding community outreach.

Sanford J. Fenton, D.D.S.

Sanford J. Fenton, D.D.S.

As the new chair of the department, Fenton wants to build on its strong foundation with ample resources and collaborative opportunities at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

"Dr. Fenton is a nationally known expert in pediatric dentistry and understands the unique challenges of caring for our youngest patients, who depend on their families for access to dental care," said Catherine M. Flaitz, D.D.S., dean and the William N. Finnegan III Professor in the Dental Sciences at the UT Dental Branch.

Fenton's strategic plan also includes a "dental home," a place where a family can go for all of their dental health needs: preventive care, comprehensive dental services and early dental health education. The goal is continuity of care, rapport between parents and health care providers, and education of parents and patients about prevention. "The ‘dental home' is a concept that goes beyond pediatric dental care. It seeks to address the whole child. We encourage parents to bring their child to their primary care physician for regular checkups and vaccinations. If help is needed locating a family doctor, we point them in the right direction," Fenton said.

Fenton received his dental degree from New York University College of Dentistry and earned a certificate and master's degree in pediatric dentistry from the University of Pittsburgh. Fenton was most recently a tenured professor and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Community Oral Health at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's College of Dentistry. He also serves as Global Clinical Advisor for Special Olympics International's Healthy Athletes Special Smiles Program.