University of California, San Diego


December 12, 2003


SUBJECT:  Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Training

One of our top priorities in the health sciences, as articulated in the College of Integrated Life Sciences initiative, is to train physician-scientists who will be the future leaders in academic medicine and translational research. I am delighted to announce that one of our own outstanding physician-scientists, Ajit Varki, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Cellular & Molecular Medicine, has accepted the new position of Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Training and will lend his significant expertise and drive to this effort.

Physician-scientists are individuals with a medical degree who spend the majority of their time performing research as their primary professional activity. In this position, which as far as we know is the first of its kind in the country, Dr. Varki will be responsible for coordinating physician-scientist training across the SOM, from medical students to specialty fellows, including developing opportunities through our recently initiated interactions with top-notch medical schools in Asia. He will report to the Vice Chancellor/Dean of the School of Medicine on these matters, while working closely with the Deans for Scientific Affairs and Faculty & Students Matters, Director of the MSTP program, Department Chairs, ORU Directors and Training Grant Directors.

Dr. Varki is an internationally respected scientist whose interests have evolved from his early career focus as a hematologist/oncologist, to his pioneering contributions in the field of glycobiology and human origins research. He earned his medical degree at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, conducted his residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of Nebraska and Temple University, and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also received advanced training in biology and biochemistry. Dr. Varki has written and lectured extensively on the national shortage of young physician-scientists and the implications for the future of academic medicine and research if the trend is not reversed. In fact, this was the subject of his Presidential Address in 1998, when he served as the youngest President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), an honor society of physician-scientists.

Dr. Varki is the founder and Co-Director of the Glycobiology Research and Training Center at UCSD and Coordinator of the Project for Explaining the Origin of Humans. He has served as President of the Society for Glycobiology and as Executive Editor of the primary textbook in the field, Essentials of Glycobiology. He is a member of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center and has served in the past as its Interim Director and Associate Director for Basic Research. He is the recipient of an NIH Merit Award and is a past Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Varki to this new position. I look forward to the development of many exciting new training opportunities under his leadership.

                                                Edward W. Holmes
                                                Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences
                                                Dean, School of Medicine