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New Dean Appointed at WSU School of Medicine

November 30, 2005

Robert M. Mentzer, Jr., M.D., Named Dean of Wayne State University School of Medicine

Robert M. Mentzer, Jr., M.D., a nationally-recognized cardiothoracic surgeon and medical school administrator with vast experience in medical education, research and clinical care, has been appointed 14th dean of the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

He succeeds Dr. Robert R. Frank who served as the school’s interim dean during the one-year national search.

The announcement was made today by Wayne State University President Dr. Irvin D. Reid following Dr. Mentzer’s confirmation at the university’s Board of Governors meeting.

Dr. Mentzer is expected to begin his term in March 2006.

As dean of the medical school and senior advisor to the president for medical affairs, Dr. Mentzer will lead the largest medical school in the country on one campus. Its annual budget of $530 million supports training for more than 1,000 medical students, 375 graduate students in the basic sciences, and research – ranked 22nd in the by the National Science Foundation – focusing on cancer, maternal and child health, neurosciences, and population studies and urban health.

Established in 1868, the school employs 1,000 full time faculty – 700 of whom are members of the Wayne State University Physician Group. The school also benefits from 1,500 voluntary faculty and the support of an estimated 9,200 living alumni.

“I am pleased that Dr. Mentzer will be leading our School of Medicine during a period of exciting opportunity for Wayne State University ,” said President Irvin D. Reid. “His demonstrated leadership abilities and visionary insight will be a significant asset to the medical school and to Wayne State as we meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Dr. Mentzer serves as the Frank C. Spencer Professor and chairman of surgery at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, and director of the University of Kentucky Transplant Center. For the past 8 years, Dr. Mentzer has served as president and chairman of the university’s faculty practice group, Kentucky Medical Services Foundation. He is also vice president of Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, the state’s organ donor procurement organization.

Widely viewed as a highly-productive academic health center administrator, Dr. Mentzer’s qualifications are extensive. Under his leadership at the University of Kentucky , his department expanded surgery electives allowing students to pursue their personal interests, and introduced computer-based testing methods and innovative student evaluations resulting in more students pursuing surgical careers.

He established a formal research committee and mentoring program leading to a doubling of departmental grant funding and its emergence as one of the most-funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He created an Office of Clinical Research to oversee Department of Surgery clinical trials and supported development of an NIH-sponsored Interdisciplinary Cardiovascular Training Program.

“The appointment of Dean Mentzer follows a comprehensive, year-long national search that generated an outstanding field of candidates,” said Nancy Barrett, Wayne State University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “I am confident he will bring exceptional leadership to our medical school as we enter a new phase of enhanced achievement and recognition in basic and translational research, education and patient care.”

From 1991-1997, Dr. Mentzer was chairman of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and professor of surgery and physiology at the University of Wisconsin (UW), where he also served as co-director of the UW Cardiovascular Research Center and participated in the Center’s first NIH funded Program Project Grant. From 1987-1991, he was vice-chair and tenured professor of surgery, as well as chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery for the State University of New York at Buffalo . From 1982-1987, he was an associate professor at the University of Virginia .

Dr. Mentzer earned his B.S. from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va. , in 1967 and his M.D. from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1971. He did a general surgery internship, general surgery residency, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery residency and participated in the NIH Academic Surgical Scholar Training Program—all at the University of Virginia Medical Center. From 1980 – 1982, he was a thoracic surgeon and major in the Medical Corps, Frankfurt Army Regional Medical Center , Frankfurt, .

A national advocate for organ donation, Dr. Mentzer has performed numerous heart transplant operations. He has published extensively on ventricular assist devices, ischemia and reperfusion and pharmacologic preconditioning of the heart and has been a reviewer for more than 15 basic science and clinical journals. He has served on numerous study sections and Special Emphasis Panels for the NIH. His research has been continuously funded by the NIH for the last 21 years.  His honors include the Bigger‑Lehman Award of the Virginia Surgical Society and the John Horsley Memorial Prize for Surgical Research.

He is married to Monika Mentzer; they have two adult sons and recently became the proud grandparents of their first grandson.

Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students in metropolitan Detroit . 

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  • Contact: Joe Michaels
  • Voice: 313-577-1429
  • Email: jmichaels@med.wayne.edu
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