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Provost Announcement: Dimitri T. Azar named Dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Dimitri T. Azar as Dean of the College of Medicine, effective December 16, 2011, pending Board of Trustees approval. This appointment follows extensive consultation with representatives of the faculty, students and college leadership which yielded enthusiastic endorsement for the appointment.  Dr. Azar has served as Interim Dean since May 1 of this year, and as Head of the Department of Ophthalmology since 2006.

Dr. Azar is a renowned ophthalmologist and an accomplished clinician-scientist, academic leader, and educator. Dr. Azar has mentored more than 100 clinical and research post-doctoral fellows, many of whom occupy academic leadership positions. As head of the Department of Ophthalmology he has presided over a patient care center serving 55,000 patients per year; a laboratory- and patient-based research enterprise engaged in treating the most serious and complex eye conditions; and the training of medical students, residents and clinical fellows, including one of the most sought after residency training programs in the nation. Under Dr. Azar's direction the department updated its facilities and established a new office in Chicago's Millennium Park, secured three endowed professorships and several endowed lectureships, established two international resident exchange programs, and was successful in renewing its departmental core grant from the National Eye Institute. In addition, Dr. Azar established the department's first clinician-scientist readiness program and received a 5-year K12 award from the National Eye Institute to support the "UIC K12 Independent Clinical Scientist Development Program."  As a result of these efforts, the number of NIH-funded clinician-scientists in the department has grown from two to nine over the past five years. These clinician-scientists are part of a group of 18 highly talented young faculty recruited during the past five years primarily at the assistant professor level.

Dr. Azar is an internationally recognized ophthalmic surgeon and has been named one of The Best Doctors in America or one of the Castle Connolly Top Doctors in America annually since 1994.  His research on matrix metalloproteinases in corneal wound healing and angiogenesis has been continually funded with the National Eye Institute R01 award since 1993. He is on the editorial boards of several ophthalmology journals and is the editor or co-editor of 14 books in ophthalmology.  He has published over 190 peer-reviewed articles and reviews, more than 300 book chapters and abstracts and holds 15 patents. 

Dr. Azar holds multiple committee positions with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is a member of the American Ophthalmological Association, and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology and the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.  He has received multiple leadership awards, including the 2009 Lans Distinguished Award from the International Society of Refractive Surgery.  In 2009, UIC selected him for a University Scholar Award, among our highest faculty honors.

Dr. Azar received his medical degree at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. In 1986, he started his Ophthalmology residency training at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard Medical School and also received a research fellowship at the Schepens Eye Research Institute.  Following his clinical fellowship in cornea and external disease at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard, Dr. Azar joined the faculty of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Medicine, where he launched the institute's first refractive surgery service. In 1996 Azar returned to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary as the Director of the Corneal and Refractive Surgery Services and became a Senior Scientist at the Schepens Eye Research Institute and a full Professor with tenure at Harvard in 2003.

The UIC College of Medicine traces its roots to 1882 and is the largest medical school in the United States. One in six doctors in Illinois received their training at UIC. The College is committed to providing medical education to the greatest number of underrepresented minority medical students. The Rural Medical Education Program at Rockford insures that there are doctors for underserved areas throughout Illinois.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Azar on his appointment.


Lon S. Kaufman
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost



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