Distributed April 26, 2002
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Scott Turner

Marsh to step down as dean of medicine and biological sciences

Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons has announced that Donald J. Marsh, M.D., will step down as dean of medicine and biological sciences. Marsh will begin a year-long sabbatical July 1, after which he will retire as dean emeritus, effective July 1, 2003.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — After nearly 10 years as the University’s chief medical education officer, Donald J. Marsh, M.D., will step down as dean of medicine and biological sciences, Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons announced today.

“The Brown Medical School is a unique and innovative institution which has brought national distinction to both Brown University and the state of Rhode Island,” Simmons said. “On behalf of the entire University community, I wish to thank Don for his years of leadership and the creative vision which has helped the Medical School grow and prosper. His colleagues and I wish him well as he returns to his own scholarly and research interests.”

For almost 10 years, Marsh, 67, was the chief academic and administrative officer of the Division of Biology and Medicine, leading both the Brown Medical School and the University’s life sciences teaching and research enterprise. The Brown Medical School, Rhode Island’s only school of medicine, is affiliated with seven local teaching hospitals.

Marsh was appointed dean in 1992. His newly created position consolidated the activities of three earlier positions: vice president for biology and medicine, dean of medicine and dean of biology. Marsh also received faculty appointments as professor of physiology and the Frank L. Day Professor of Biology.

“I am deeply satisfied with my decision to step down, for I leave a thriving medical school whose future is full of possibilities,” Marsh said. “I know Brown has the resources and vision to stake its claim in the rapidly changing areas of medicine and the life sciences, and I look forward to watching that happen.”

Marsh will begin a year-long sabbatical July 1. Upon his return to Brown July 1, 2003, Marsh will officially become dean of biology and medical sciences emeritus. Simmons will appoint a search committee which will begin its work this summer and will announce an interim dean to serve during the transition.

During Marsh’s tenure at Brown, annual research funding in the Division of Biology and Medicine grew three-fold, topping $100 million for the last academic year. Rhode Island currently receives the seventh-highest amount of NIH funding per capita in the nation, nearly all of which goes to Division of Biology and Medicine faculty.

“Bringing Rhode Island more than $100 million per year in funded research did not happen by accident,” said Joseph Amaral, M.D., president of Rhode Island Hospital. “In large measure, credit for this accomplishment belongs to Dean Marsh for establishing a vision that placed the Brown Medical School at the forefront.”

During nearly a decade of Marsh’s tenure as dean, the Brown Medical School achieved some significant advances:

  • In 1996, Brown introduced an innovative new curriculum for medical education. The “M.D. 2000” curriculum has become a national model.
  • Brown added 12 new professorships across a range of medical specialties and recruited nationally prominent faculty whose programs of research improved patient care in Rhode Island.
  • The Campaign for Brown Medical School, which will conclude at the end of this academic year, will surpass its $70-million goal, easily the most successful medical campaign in Brown’s history.
  • A new Masters in Public Health degree, the first and only such program in Rhode Island, was announced in the 2000-01 academic year.
  • A variety of new interdisciplinary centers, institutes and programs began work at Brown, including the Brain Sciences Program, the Brown University Oncology Group, the Center for Statistical Sciences and the Public Health Institute.

At Brown, the dean is accountable for the education of both biology and medical students. Because Brown does not have its own academic medical center, the dean is responsible for maintaining academic relationships with the seven affiliated hospitals.

“I am tremendously proud of what we have accomplished,” said Marsh. “When I came here a decade ago, our Medical School was known for graduating physicians who viewed medicine as a socially responsible human service profession. To complement that strength, I saw the potential for Brown to develop into a place that would be known for its research excellence as well.

“Today Brown is renowned for producing well-rounded physicians, leading health care advocates, and eminent scholars who will directly influence the fields of biology and medicine throughout this new century. We have accomplished this by investing in our students, expanding our research infrastructure, and attracting more and more top-flight physicians and scientists to posts on campus and at our hospitals.”

Donald J. Marsh, M.D.

Marsh earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of California–Berkeley and an M.D. degree at University of California–San Francisco. After an internship at UCLA Hospital, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the New York University School of Medicine and at two research centers in Germany. He taught at NYU from 1963 to 1971, and from 1971 to 1992 he was a professor at the University of Southern California. There he also served as chairman of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics from 1978 to 1992. His research is in renal physiology, blood pressure regulation, and mathematical biology.

Brown Medical School

The Program in Liberal Medical Education is an innovative approach to study in the life sciences. This eight-year continuum leads to both bachelor and M.D. degrees. It combines the open curriculum of the College with the competency-based curriculum of the Medical School. More than 320 students are enrolled in Brown Medical School. About 330 alumni practice medicine in Rhode Island currently. Nearly 2,100 physicians in Rhode Island and southeast New England have faculty ties to the Brown Medical School.