After conducting a yearlong, nationwide search for a new University of Rochester Medical Center CEO and School of Medicine and Dentistry dean, the university’s Board of Trustees has chosen an internal candidate to assume both posts.
Surgical oncologist David Linehan M.D. is slated to succeed current URMC CEO and medical school dean Mark Taubman M.D. on Feb. 1. He also was named senior vice president for health sciences.
UR recruited Linehan in 2014 to chair the medical center’s surgery department. He came to Rochester from the Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, where he was the Neidorff Family and Robert C. Packman Professor of Surgery.
Linehan currently serves as the Wilmot Cancer Center’s associate director of research and the medical school’s Seymour Schwartz Professor in Surgery. On assuming CEO and medical school duties, he will continue to hold both appointments.
In his current posts, Linehan has significantly expanded URMC’s surgery department, recruiting more than 50 surgeons and attracting researchers who have secured millions of dollars from the National Institutes of Health and other funders.
As a surgeon, Linehan specializes in treating cancers of liver, pancreas and gastric and biliary tracts. Internal organ cancers like pancreatic cancer often go undetected while they grow and spread, leaving patients with only weeks to live when they are finally diagnosed. Linehan and his team are conducting research with the goal to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients by using newly discovered drugs in combination with immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
In addition to Linehan’s professional achievements as a physician and researcher, UR officials credit him with prudent fiscal management and growing revenues as an administrator.
In a statement, Linehan pronounced himself “grateful and honored for the opportunity to lead the Medical Center as CEO and the School of Medicine and Dentistry as dean.”
UR’s decision, for the first time in the university’s history, to name a single individual to simultaneously head URMC and serve as medical school dean dates to 2014, when Bradford Berk M.D. stepped down as CEO after having served nine years in the post.
Berk had been partly paralyzed in a bicycle accident in 2010. Earlier that year, he had recruited Taubman, a longtime friend and research partner at Harvard University, to serve as medical school dean.
The accident put Berk out of commission for a year while he underwent intense physical therapy at a specialized facility in New Jersey.
Taubman had cut short a vacation in China to fly back to Rochester upon hearing of Berk’s accident. On Taubman’s arrival, then-UR president Joel Seligman appointed Taubman interim CEO to serve while Berk recovered.
For the next year, Taubman simultaneously fielded duties as CEO and dean. When Berk stepped down in 2014, Seligman reinstalled Taubman as CEO and again left him in charge of the medical school.
After stepping down as CEO, Berk founded and continues to head UR’s Neurorestoration Institute.
Taubman announced his decision in September 2022 to not seek reappointment as CEO and dean, stating he would remain on the job until the end of this year or until UR had completed a nationwide search for his successor.
Among initiatives Linehan inherits from Taubman’s administration is a major expansion of Strong Memorial Hospital.
Kicked off in September, the phased expansion—the largest the hospital has undertaken to date—is slated to add more than 200 examination/treatment and patient observation stations to the Strong Emergency Department and Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program.
UR president Sarah Mangelsdorf says Linehan brings to the roles of URMC CEO and medical school dean “a vision (that) that draws on his outstanding track record of leadership and expertise as a physician, surgeon, researcher, and academic administrator.”
Says Linehan, “While the challenges in health care delivery are many, the demand for our services is ever-growing and we are well-positioned for the future. I will work tirelessly … as we focus on improving our clinical, educational, and research efforts to better serve our patients, faculty, allied health professionals, trainees, staff, and our greater community.”
Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].