Winds of change

Dean Thomas J. Lawley

Editor’s note: Dean Lawley is the fourth longest serving dean among U.S. medical schools. He became dean in 1996 after joining the dermatology faculty in 1988.

The School of Medicine has a wonderful and vast pool of alumni and getting to know many of you over the years has been a great pleasure, so it is bittersweet for me to tell you that I am stepping down as dean effective Aug. 31.

I plan to take a year’s sabbatical before returning to the faculty to continue my research and clinical practice. The past 15 years have been exciting, challenging, even trying at times, but always deeply satisfying.

We have accomplished much together. Since 1996 the medical school increased its NIH-sponsored research funding nearly five-fold to more than $265 million per year. In fact, we rank 15th in the country in NIH funding. The size of our faculty has nearly doubled. We built one of the finest medical education buildings in the country and transformed our curriculum to meet the changing demands of medicine.

You, the alumni, have supported our faculty and students throughout the years. Your financial support and work behind the scenes have helped carry our school from a regional presence to a national player.

And your continued support is needed. Our work is not done. There is much clinical and basic science research needed to transform patient’s lives, to rid the world of deadly diseases and debilitating conditions.

Although our medical school will continue to grow and transform as medicine does long after I step down, one thing will remain constant. The education of the next generation of doctors will always be our top mission. We attract smart, well-rounded applicants to fill the next class. We demand a lot from our students, and they demand a lot from each other. And they deliver. We graduate doctors who not only provide their patients with technical expertise but also communicate with their patients effectively and compassionately.

When I look back on my career, serving as dean has been my greatest accomplishment, but to say that I had a hand in educating many of the young doctors that you now call your colleagues is my greatest reward.


Dean Thomas J. Lawley
Emory University School of Medicine

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