Delafontaine named new School of Medicine dean

Delafontaine has 37 years of experience in both clinical work and education.

MU has hired Patrice Delafontaine as the new School of Medicine dean effective December 1.

Delafontaine currently serves as the Chief of Cardiology at Tulane University, a member of the Association of American Universities.

Delafontaine said one of his goals as the new dean is to increase opportunities for current medical students and class size.

“There is an expansion program in place to increase the educational opportunities for the school,” he said. “One of the plans is to expand the medical class.”

Harold Williamson Jr., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, said he believes Delafontaine is a good fit for the school.

“Medical school deans must be experienced and passionate about education, clinical care, and research,” Williamson said. “In particular, his research experience and expertise are a good fit with the next phase of the (School of Medicine’s) advancement.”

Delafontaine said he also plans to take advantage of MU’s centralized campus to provide medical students “more opportunities to work with other colleges with interdisciplinary research,” as well as options for “joint recruiting in collaboration with the other colleges.”

Delafontaine brings an extensive background in both clinical work and education over 37 years.

Delafontaine was born in Alexandria, Egypt, received medical education at the University of Geneva and performed his residency in cardiology at Harvard University and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

During his career, Delafontaine has written over 115 research papers and was the first scientist to discover an important link between the renin-angiotensin system, part of the human hormone system which is responsible for regulating blood pressure, and a protein which is key for childhood growth.

Delafontaine said he believes he was selected as dean due to his extensive clinical work and care for patients.

Williamson said Delafontaine stood out among various candidates for the positions because “he has a very high level of integrity, responsibility, work ethic, mentoring experience, collaborative instinct and has experience in several medical schools.”

Les Hall, the interim dean at the School of Medicine, has held his current position since former-Dean Robert Churchill resigned in 2012.

Hall said he has high hopes for Delafontaine as the new dean.

“I believe (Delafontaine) will be an outstanding leader for the School of Medicine and will make major contributions to the entire MU community,” he said.

Delafontaine said a legacy he would like to achieve would be for students to leave the school with the ability to develop good patient relations.

“Students (should come) out with a capacity to sit down and connect with patients,” Delafontaine said. “The bedrock of a good doctor is the patient-doctor relationship.”

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