James R. Gavin III to Retire as National Director of the RWJF’s Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program

    • June 17, 2013

PRINCETON, N.J.―One of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s longest-running national programs, the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, announced today that James R. Gavin III, MD, PhD, who has served as its national program director since 1993, will relinquish his role as director this year.

The well-known program, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, has fostered diversity among U.S. medical school faculty. In 2011 it expanded its scope to do the same among dental school faculty.

“James Gavin has been instrumental in the Harold Amos program’s indelible impact on academic medicine,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). “His exemplary leadership has sustained and extended the legacy of this program’s first director and namesake, Dr. Harold Amos. Under Dr. Gavin’s guidance, over 200 physicians and dentists from disadvantaged backgrounds have been readied to become leaders in the field of academic medicine, and to foster the next generation of leaders as well.”

Under Gavin’s direction, the program has seen hundreds of alumni move on to prestigious positions in academic medicine. A significant number of physicians cited by Black Enterprise as the “leading black doctors in the country” are alumni of the program, and three program alumni are now directors of Institutes within the National Institutes of Health.

Gavin said, “It has been an immeasurable honor to play a part in realizing the Harold Amos program’s goal of building and developing a cadre of brilliant young physicians and dentists who go on to make significant contributions to the field of academic medicine. Our scholars and alumni make up one of the richest endowments of human capital with which I have ever been affiliated. Being part of that for three decades has helped fulfill my commitment to develop programs that create sustainable, positive change.”

Gavin will continue his contributions as an active leader and national mentor in health and health care through a variety of activities, including serving as chairman of the board of the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. He will remain an active member of the national advisory committee of the Harold Amos program, providing assistance as needed by the new program director. He will also serve as an advisor to career development programs.

Succeeding Gavin will be David S. Wilkes, MD, executive associate dean for research affairs and August M. Watanabe Professor of Medical Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. An alumnus of the Harold Amos program (1992-96), Wilkes has secured independent funding for his medical research from the National Institutes of Health continuously since 1996. As an entrepreneur, Wilkes is the founder and scientific director of ImmuneWorks, Inc., an Indianapolis life sciences startup company that has developed a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which kills more than 40,000 people each year, and a treatment for primary graft dysfunction (PGD), which is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality following lung transplantation.

The Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, formerly known as the Minority Medical Faculty Development Program, was created to increase the number of faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds who can achieve senior rank in academic medicine or dentistry and who will encourage and foster the development of succeeding classes of such physicians and dentists. Four-year postdoctoral research awards are offered to historically disadvantaged physicians and dentists who are committed to developing careers in academic medicine and to serving as role models for students and faculty of similar background.

The program was renamed and expanded in 2004 in honor of Harold Amos, PhD, who was the first African-American to chair a department, now the Department of Microbiology and Medical Genetics, of the Harvard Medical School.  Amos worked tirelessly to recruit and mentor countless numbers of minority and disadvantaged students to careers in academic medicine and science. He was a founding member of the national advisory committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Minority Medical Faculty Development Program in 1983, and served as the program’s national program director between 1989 and 1993. Amos remained active with the program until his death in 2003.

Media Contact:

Christine Clayton | Robert Wood Johnson Foundation | media@rwjf.org | 609-627-5937
Cathy Arnst | Robert Wood Johnson Foundation | carnst@rwjf.org | 877-843-7953

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.