MU School of Medicine dean resigns

James Stannard, chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, set to take over as interim dean

MU School of Medicine Dean Patrice “Patrick” Delafontaine resigned from his position effective immediately on Sep. 14. His tenure lasted for about nine and a half months.

James Stannard, chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the School of Medicine, will step in as the interim dean. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin made the announcement Sep. 14 in Insight, the newsletter for employees of the University Health System.

“His proven leadership will provide continuity as we advance the goals outlined in the university’s, the health system’s and the School of Medicine’s strategic plans; continue clinical integration by fostering strong partnerships with all of our health-related schools; and contribute to the university’s leadership team,” Loftin said in the newsletter.

Loftin did not say why Delafontaine resigned.

Delafontaine worked in medicine for the past 37 years, and was the chief of cardiology at Tulane University before taking the dean position at the School of Medicine.

During his time as an associate professor at Emory University, Delafontaine discovered the link between the renic-angiotension system and the hormone Insulin-like growth factor-1, which is important in the understanding of the biology of muscle function and aging, according to a Dec. 10, 2014 Maneater article.

Delafontaine continued that research by examining the link’s impact on several chronic diseases, including heart failure.

Three months after Delafontaine was appointed, four MU faculty members presented an unfavorable report to Faculty Council about the School of Medicine.

The report found that department leadership was perceived as “lacking research competence, autocratic, intimidating and vindictive.”

It also found that MU’s research productivity was far below other schools in the Association of American Universities, the Southeastern Conference and the Midwest. The school placed below average in each measure of research productivity and ranked 91 out of 138 schools in funding received from the National Institutes of Health.

In the same newsletter that announced Delafontaine’s resignation, Loftin addressed MU’s low research productivity by announcing the restoration of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs position. Loftin made this decision at the recommendation of Huron Consulting, a group the university hired to examine the medical school’s organizational structure.

“This structure will help us align strategy and operations around the goals for both our clinical and research enterprise and to support the academic mission of our Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions,” Loftin said in the newsletter. “We will recruit for this position a physician leader who fosters collaboration, is focused on the future of the health care industry, is able to provide visionary and strategic leadership, [...] and has a track record of fostering and growing sponsored research.”

The School of Medicine dean’s office did not respond to The Maneater’s request for a comment.

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