Welcome to our new Internal Medicine Chair, Kathy A. Cooney, M.D.
Apr 8, 2016 10:24 AM
One of the most delightful and important responsibilities of any leader is the recruitment and retention of super stars. This spring, we welcomed a bright star to the University of Utah Health Sciences—an outstanding oncologist and scientist who takes the helm of the School of Medicine’s largest department, Internal Medicine.
Kathy A. Cooney, M.D., joined us on March 1 and relocated to Utah after serving in key leadership positions at the University of Michigan, including most recently as Division Chief of Hematology/Oncology and deputy director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Cooney’s arrival begins an exciting new chapter for our school and more than 300 Internal Medicine faculty members. She replaces John Hoidal, M.D. who finally gets to return to his passion for research after leading the department through 15 years of unprecedented growth and significant changes to academic medicine itself.
Dr. Cooney was attracted here in great part because of our institution’s hard work and dedication to health care transformation. As the chair of internal medicine with 14 divisions covering important diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, Dr. Cooney’s leadership is key to the University of Utah’s successful efforts to advance translational research and to advance the health of our communities. A significant number of US health care dollars are spent managing these common chronic diseases and this she sees as an outstanding opportunity to focus on value-based care designed—improving quality of care while reducing cost. Our Internal Medicine department already has key integrated programs focused on heart failure and diabetes. Dr. Cooney plans to leverage success in these programs to inspire new value-based care programs for other chronic health conditions.
She was also attracted to Utah because of our foundational strengths in genetics. As a practicing oncologist specializing in prostate cancer care, she has seen how precision medicine impacts both risk assessment and therapeutic options for men with prostate cancer. Utah’s work in understanding the genetics of rare and common diseases with the help of the world’s largest repository of genealogies and medical records—the Utah Population Database (UPDB)—can serve to advance this work even further. Dr. Cooney plans to encourage researchers across disciplines to take advantage of the opportunity the UPDB offers to advance knowledge. Given President Obama's interest in supporting precision medicine, she is inspired to bring resources together to encourage faculty to better understand the diseases that they manage at the molecular level.
Dr. Cooney’s background makes her uniquely suited to continue the department’s strong research trajectory. She is internationally recognized for her seminal research in understanding hereditary prostate cancer. Her work led to the important discovery of a recurrent mutation in the HOXB13 gene that increases the chances of getting hereditary prostate cancer. This gene is estimated to cause about 5 percent of cases worldwide, and its discovery means men with HOXB13 can benefit from screening and any future prevention protocols.
Also joining us at the University is Dr. Cooney’s husband, Gary Faerber, M.D., a nationally regarded urologist. Dr. Faerber joins the University of Utah medical school as a professor of surgery and University of Utah health care administrator. He was previously the associate chair of Michigan's Department of Urology and the department's medical residency director. Dr. Faerber occupies an important position in the American Urology Association's North Central Section and is known nationwide for his expertise in endourology and for treating stone disease.
We could not be more grateful to have the Drs. Cooney and Faerber join our university health system. As we continue to advance the health of our communities through outstanding science, training, and clinical care, we know that Dr. Cooney’s leadership of the Department of Internal Medicine will be transformational.comments powered by Disqus