March 21, 2000
Volume 46
Number 25

Health System Appointments and Changes

The appointment of Peter G. Traber, M.D., as CEO of the University's Health System was made in an announcement last week by President Judith Rodin. Dr. Traber has served as interim CEO for the past month (Almanac February 22).

In addition to his role as CEO, Dr. Traber will continue serving as interim Dean of the School of Medicine. "As University rules require, a faculty committee will be appointed in the future to undertake a nationwide search for a dean, and he is expected to be a candidate in that search," Dr. Rodin said.

As the Frank Wister Thomas Professor of Medicine, Dr. Traber served as Chair of Penn's Department of Medicine before his appointment in February as interim CEO and Dean. Dr. Rodin continued, "In his month as interim CEO, he has shown the willingness and capacity to guide and manage Penn's Health System in these complicated and difficult times. As I said last month, he is an exceptional researcher and clinician whose knowledge of UPHS is broad and deep. Our trustees, medical faculty and staff have great confidence in him, as do I. He is clearly an able leader who will direct the Health System to future success.

"We have an outstanding medical faculty and the quality of our clinical care is recognized nationwide. Peter Traber's mandate is to assure the capacity of the Health System to sustain its excellence and fulfill its academic mission as we continue to confront and solve the challenges of this difficult health care environment," Dr. Rodin concluded.

Dr. Peter Traber then announced some additional changes in the UPHS leadership.

"We have concluded our arrangement with the Hunter Group, which was retained last month to help us during this transitional period. The advice the consultants provided was valuable in helping me assess our progress in implementing their recommendations. I thank the Hunter Group for its help, and I will not hesitate to engage them again if we feel it would help us meet our goals. What is important to emphasize, however, is that the UPHS leadership team will continue to plan and execute the decisions that determine our course," said Dr. Traber.

Dr. Robert D. Martin, will resume his role as chief operating officer of the Health System. "In his nine months as COO, Robert had proved himself extremely well suited for the task of helping to guide our institution through difficult but necessary changes. His overall range of experience and expertise in health-care management and finances as well as his knowledge of Penn's Health System make him the best person for the job," added Dr. Traber.

Dr. Traber thanked Will Ferniany for stepping into the interim COO role for these past few weeks. "He provided a stabilizing effect and continues to push our important agenda for financial recovery. I look forward to his continuing leadership as Senior Vice President for Administrative and Network Services."

"UPHS has made significant progress in responding to the financial crisis that has affected us and most of our peer institutions. However, we have much to accomplish. With a unified leadership in place, I am more confident than ever that our Health System will emerge stronger and better equipped to handle all challenges," said Dr. Traber.

 UPHS: National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance

The University of Pennsylvania Health System has been designated one of eight nationally recognized research sites for the study of colorectal cancer by the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA). As such, Penn--the only recognized center in the region--will work with the NCCRA to enhance research against this disease.

Also recognized by the NCCRA for his progressive work in the study of colorectal cancer is Dr. Anil K. Rustgi, associate professor of medicine and genetics and chief of Penn's division of gastroenterology. Dr. Rustgi has been named a member of the organization's medical advisory board--whose mission is to advance the research, early detection, and therapy of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, though with early detection, doctors estimate it is over 90% curable. "There are approximately 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States," says Dr. Rustgi, "with approximately 60,000 people who die from the cancer or its complications every year. Yet, with early screening, it is a cancer in which much can be done to prevent occurrence and reduce morbidity and mortality."

Penn's research in colorectal cancer is multi-faceted, providing a broad basis for taking advances into the clinical setting. There are programs in the investigation of the basic science of cancer, and specifically, cancer of the colon and rectum; prevention; molecular diagnostics; and translational research--these are just a few which help move medicine from the 'bench to the bedside.' Prominent Penn researchers are recipients of funding from many sources including the NIH and the National Cancer Institute.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System also offers numerous programs in the diagnosis and therapy of patients with gastrointestinal cancers on both an in-patient and outpatient basis. The gastrointestinal oncology clinics employ a multi-disciplinary approach with physicians from gastroenterology, gastrointestinal surgery, radiology and the world-renowned Cancer Center utilizing current therapeutic and surgical techniques for patients with primary or advanced cancers. In addition, a high-risk clinic focuses on patients and their families who may have inherited forms of colon cancer, determining the feasibility of genetic testing integrated into clinical guidelines to diagnose /treat the disease.

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 Gender Equity at Penn

Faculty, staff and students interested in working on gender equity issues raised by the MIT report, A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT, are invited to join the newly formed working group for discussion and planning. The group will meet on Thursday, March 23, from noon to 2 p.m., at the Women's Center, 3643 Locust Walk. The full text of the MIT report can be found at http://web.mit.edu/fnl/women/Fnlwomen.htm.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 25, March 21, 2000