Newswise — Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., will be the next president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, the AAMC announced today.
Dr. Kirch is currently The Pennsylvania State University's senior vice president for health affairs, dean of Penn State College of Medicine, and chief executive officer of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. He will succeed Jordan J. Cohen, M.D., who announced earlier this year that he would step down as the AAMC's president in June 2006.
Dr. Kirch has led Penn State's medical school and medical center since 2000. He and his leadership team are widely credited with revitalizing the institution and guiding it through a period of major expansion following its unsuccessful merger with the Geisinger Health System, which ended in June 2000. During his tenure, the College of Medicine received its full accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the medical center showed exceptionally solid fiscal results and dramatic growth in clinical activity, while total research funding for the Hershey campus grew from less than $55 million to more than $100 million in only five years.
Before coming to Penn State, Dr. Kirch served as dean of the school of medicine at the Medical College of Georgia from 1994 to 2000. In 1995 he also became the dean of the school of graduate studies, and in 1998, he took on the additional role of senior vice president for clinical activities, a newly created position overseeing the hospitals and clinical practices of the institution. Earlier in his career, Dr. Kirch served in a number of leadership positions at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland, including as medical director of the Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital. He became acting scientific director of the NIMH in 1993. Dr. Kirch is a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he also completed his residency training in psychiatry.
Commenting on the decision, Dr. Cohen said, "Darrell Kirch is uniquely qualified to lead the nation's medical schools and teaching hospitals. Having served as the dean of two medical schools, the CEO of a major academic medical center, and an NIH researcher, Dr. Kirch brings the integrated perspective and experience, outstanding leadership abilities, and collaborative spirit that are essential for success in the challenging times ahead. He will be an extremely strong and effective leader for academic medicine."
Dr. Kirch also brings an extensive history of involvement in the AAMC to his new position. The current chair-elect of the association, he has been a member of the association's Executive Council since 2001. He is also the current co-chair of the LCME, the organization that accredits medical schools in the United States. From 2003 to 2004, Dr. Kirch served as chair of the association's Council of Deans Administrative Board. That same year, he participated in an effort by an Ad Hoc Committee of Deans to develop a vision for the AAMC's efforts to reform undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education. He also chaired the association's Working Group on Institutional Accountability for Graduate Medical Education from 1998 to 2002, and served on the Advisory Panel on the Mission and Organization of Medical Schools from 2000 to 2001, and the Health Appropriations Action Committee from 2002 to 2003. In addition, Dr. Kirch has served as chair of the American Medical Association Section on Medical Schools.
"I truly am humbled by the honor of being chosen to lead the AAMC. The next few years promise to be a transformative time for medical education and research, the practice of medicine, and our nation's health care system. I look forward to working with all the AAMC constituents to shape our future course. Great opportunities lie ahead," said Dr. Kirch, who will become the AAMC's president on July 1, 2006.
The AAMC is a nonprofit association representing all 125 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 68 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and 94 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 109,000 faculty members, 67,000 medical students, and 104,000 resident physicians. Additional information about the AAMC and U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at http://www.aamc.org/newsroom.