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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Update on Harvard physician-scientist's move to Arizona

Dr. Robert A. Greenes says it's hard to leave Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital, after 40 years, but the chance to build a new biomedical informatics program in Arizona is too good to pass up.

"Harvard and the Brigham have provided a wonderful environment for my professional activity," he said in an e-mail message last night. "My decision to leave Boston after many years of working closely with so many wonderful colleagues was not easy but became irresistible as I learned more about what the opportunity could be."

Greenes, a Harvard Medical School radiology professor and program director of a Harvard-MIT training program in medical informatics, is joining Arizona State University, whose faculty teaches medical students at the new Phoenix branch of the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

He is the second prominent biomedical informatics researcher to leave Harvard for a new program, following Stephen Wong, who took about 20 lab staffers with him to Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston.

"Besides the attractions of the new position in terms of the commitment of the participating institutions to it, and the generous budget, and space, ... I think the big attraction for me is the chance to raise the scale of informatics activity and commitment, " Greenes said.

Greenes singled out Dr. Steven Seltzer, chief of radiology at the Brigham, for his support of biomedical informatics as the field has matured. Yesterday Seltzer called the new opportunity for Greenes an exciting one.

The University of Arizona incorporated biomedical informatics into plans for its new medical school branch in Phoenix, Greenes said. Its 24 students have just begun classes, medical school spokesman Al Brava said yesterday.

Biomedical informatics includes the role of informatics not only in genomics and molecular science, but also in imaging, clinical medicine and public health, Greenes said.

"These are heady times for informatics, and Arizona recognizes and is poised to take advantage of its potential," he said.

His wife, Carole Greenes, is also joining Arizona State University. A professor of mathematics education at Boston University, she will become dean of the School of Educational Innovation and Teacher preparation at ASU's Polytechnic campus in Mesa.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 09:27 AM
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