Polonsky reappointed as head of biological sciences, medical school and medical center at University of Chicago

Polonsky reappointed as head of biological sciences, medical school and medical center at University of Chicago

March 18, 2015

Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, the Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, has been appointed to a second five-year term as dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago. The reappointment is effective Oct. 1, 2015.

In his role as dean, Polonsky oversees the university's research and education programs in the biological sciences and medicine. As executive vice president, he reports directly to the university president and serves as an officer of the university, overseeing the University of Chicago Medicine.

Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, said the reappointment is a reflection of Polonsky's accomplishments during the past four and a half years, reinforced by the recommendation of a faculty-reappointment advisory committee.

"Under Kenneth's leadership, the medical center has made dramatic steps forward in virtually every aspect of clinical care," Zimmer said. "That this has been accomplished in a very uncertain and volatile environment for health care nationally has made these advances all the more remarkable. Thanks to the work that Kenneth, his leadership team, and all members of our clinical care delivery program have done over the past few years, we are in a dramatically stronger position to address these challenges."

"Kenneth has not only been a leader in clinical affairs, but also in the quality of our educational programs. Students from the College are now among the best prepared to enter top graduate programs, and the Pritzker School of Medicine is attracting top students and increasingly recognized for its eminence," said Provost Eric D. Isaacs. "We are confident that Kenneth is the right leader to build on these accomplishments, grow the research enterprise, and continue to make the University a premier destination for faculty and students."

The growing strength of the clinical enterprise has enabled Polonsky, working closely with the faculty, to begin laying the foundations for new and major investments in research and education and for ensuring the strength of the structures that support the basic sciences. In the last four years, the Biological Sciences Division has recruited outstanding scholars who have been helping to build and enhance existing programs and launch new ones.

Important accomplishments during his tenure include the opening in early 2013 of the Center for Care and Discovery, a model for health care delivery; appointment of John Maunsell, a pioneering researcher in the neuroscience of vision and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuroscience, as inaugural director of the Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior; and recruitment of Douglas R. Dirschl, a nationally recognized orthopedic surgeon, administrator, teacher and researcher, to head the newly created Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine.

A distinguished scientist, Polonsky continues to study the role of the pancreatic beta cell in the development of diabetes. The beta cell is the cell that produces and secretes insulin.

"I have been privileged to work with talented faculty and staff in the Biological Sciences Division, Pritzker School of Medicine and the University of Chicago Medical Center to continue our commitment to our core missions of research, education, patient care and community health," Polonsky said. "I am honored by this vote of confidence in my reappointment and look forward to the next five years."

Polonsky came to the University of Chicago in 1978 for a fellowship in endocrinology. He joined the university's faculty in 1981, and soon became section chief of endocrinology and director the university's Diabetes Research and Training Center. He served for 10 years as the Adolphus Busch Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, then returned to the University of Chicago in his current role in 2010.

A member since 2006 of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Polonsky has won multiple research awards. He has published nearly 300 papers, has served on the editorial boards of several leading journals and on national and regional committees of a number of organizations including the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.