News in Brief

UPHS CEO Peter Traber to GlaxoSmithKline

Dr. Peter G. Traber, M.D., interim dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania Health System (Almanac March 21, 2000), has accepted an appointment as head of clinical pharmacology and experimental medicine at GlaxoSmithKline, the health care company to be formed upon the merger of SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome, according to an announcement today (July 26) by President Judith Rodin.

"Peter Traber has done an outstanding job for the University and its Health System," Dr. Rodin said. "We are sorry to see him go, but we recognize that this is a tremendous new opportunity for him."

GlaxoSmithKline will be one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical companies, with an estimated annual R&D budget of $4 billion and research interests across a wide range of therapeutic categories. The completion date of the merger is scheduled for Sept. 25, 2000.

Penn's Health System has achieved a remarkable financial recovery over the past year, Dr. Rodin noted. "The Health System has made great progress in its financial recovery from the deficits experienced in FY '98 and FY '99," she said. "In FY 2000, which ended June 30, the Health System's operating deficit was dramatically reduced, and we are very grateful for the efforts of the entire Health System leadership team in achieving this major turnaround."

In the fiscal year ahead, Dr. Rodin added, "Health System leadership is resolutely focused on achieving better than break-even performance." Although academic medical centers will continue to face serious challenges, she continued, "our Health System has great reason for optimism. We have the enormous advantage of an unparalleled faculty, outstanding clinical chairs and a highly talented and dedicated staff."

Over the past year, Dr. Rodin noted, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has been recognized with three of the most prestigious awards in health care: The National Quality Health Care Award, the Excellence in Health Care Risk Management Award and the Ernest A. Codman Award. It was also listed in the Honor Roll of America's Best Hospitals, published in the July 17, 2000, issue of U.S. News & World Report.

And Penn's School of Medicine, consistently ranked among the top five medical schools in America, was third in the U.S. News & World Report survey published in the April 10, 2000, issue of the magazine.

Dr. Traber, an international expert on the molecular mechanisms of intestinal differentiation and development, has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the complex network of nuclear proteins that regulate transcription of intestinal genes, work that has important implications for colon cancer.

Commenting on his work at the University, Dr. Traber said "the Penn faculty is a most talented and dedicated group, and the opportunity to work with them has been the highlight of my career.

"I have been very privileged to serve the outstanding faculty and staff of the School of Medicine and the Health System," he said. "Nothing short of the unique opportunity I have been offered could have persuaded me to take a different direction at this point."

The Frank Wister Thomas Professor of Medicine and chairman of the department of medicine until he assumed his current responsibilities on Feb. 17, 2000, Dr. Traber will take a leave of absence from the Penn faculty, but, according to Dr. Rodin, "we look forward to Peter's continued association with the School of Medicine, and the University, in the future."

She said that Penn will immediately launch a national search to identify candidates for the combined position of dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of UPHS. "The University is committed to this combined leadership role," she explained, "and we expect to recruit a national leader to fill it."

While the search is underway, she said that Dr. Arthur K. Asbury, M.D., the Van Meter Emeritus Professor of Neurology, who has been serving as deputy dean of the School of Medicine, will assume new responsibilities as interim dean of the School of Medicine. Dr. Asbury has been a member of the Penn faculty since 1974, when he was appointed chair of the department of neurology. He has held a variety of administrative assignments, including service as senior vice dean of the School of Medicine, acting executive vice president of the Medical Center and acting dean of the School of Medicine--assignments that, she said, "provide extraordinary background and experience for his new assignment." Dr. Robert Martin, Ph.D., who has been COO of the UPHS, will assume new responsibilities as interim CEO of the health services components of the Health System, and Penn will continue "to rely heavily on the talent, judgment and energy he brings to his assignment. Robert has been a mainstay of Health System leadership, and the trustees and I have great confidence in him."

Dr. Rodin added that Dr. David Longnecker, M.D., the Robert Dunning Dripps Professor of Anesthesia, will continue serving as chairman of the Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania (CPUP), working closely with Dr. Asbury and Dr. Martin.

"This leadership team," she concluded, "offers us a wealth of pertinent experience which, together with the outstanding leadership of the Trustee Board of the Health System and the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, will continue to support the excellent teaching, research and clinical care that is the hallmark of the University of Pennsylvania."

The University of Pennsylvania Health System, established in 1993 as America's first fully-integrated academic health system, includes the School of Medicine and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, together known as the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center; three other wholly-owned hospitals, including Presbyterian Medical Center, Pennsylvania Hospital and Phoenixville Hospital; 12 network hospitals that are not owned by Penn but are partners with the Health System; 12 educationally-affiliated hospitals, including The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Veterans Administration Medical Center and Children's Seashore House; and a variety of other components.

Posted 7/26/2000