INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University School of Medicine Dean D. Craig Brater was awarded the University Medal on Tuesday at a dinner in his honor. Brater will retire in August after leading the nation’s second-largest medical school for 13 years.
IU President Michael A. McRobbie made the presentation of the University Medal, the highest honor an IU president can bestow.
McRobbie lauded Brater’s “visionary leadership, his plain-spokenness, his extraordinary energy and his good humor” in remarks honoring a man who has served the IU School of Medicine for 27 years.
“Those qualities have helped him to guide the nation’s second-largest school of medicine — a school that trains more than half of Indiana’s physicians — and to enhance its role as a global leader in medical education and research,” McRobbie added. “Those qualities have been instrumental in our efforts to transform Indiana’s life sciences economy. They have helped bring the university millions of dollars in grants and awards, improved patient care working in the closest of partnership with IU Health and allowed Craig to make major contributions to global public health. And they have made Craig one of this university’s most respected doctors, teachers, researchers and administrators.”
Brater joined the IU School of Medicine faculty in 1986 and established the Division of Clinical Pharmacology in the Department of Medicine. He is a nationally known expert on the effects of diuretics and of non-steroidal inflammatory drugs on renal function. In 1990, Brater was named chair of the Department of Medicine, the largest department in the school. He held that position for 10 years before he was named the ninth dean of the IU School of Medicine. In 2010, Brater took on additional responsibilities as the vice president for university clinical affairs.
“My time as dean has gone by in a flash owing to all the incredible things that have been occurring at the IU School of Medicine,” Brater said. “What has been most satisfying to me and the engine for all that has been accomplished is the incredible people on faculty, on staff and learners: from the young people eager to become good doctors to the educators dedicated to making them the best doctors they can possibly be to the scientists trying to solve mysteries of disease and by doing so better the human condition to those in the clinic providing both cutting-edge medicine but doing so in a compassionate and humanistic way. When one is immersed in such an environment it is at the same time thrilling and humbling in knowing the ultimate end point is doing good.”
During his tenure, the IU School of Medicine experienced exceptional growth in many significant areas. In 2000, the year he was named dean, the school accepted 280 first-year medical students; this summer, the first-year medical student class will include 344 men and women, an increase of more than 20 percent. This effort was made in response to an anticipated national shortage of physicians.
The number of faculty has increased by nearly 80 percent to more than 2,000 physicians and scientists, and nearly 3,000 volunteer faculty throughout the state. With an eye toward enhancing the school’s national standing as a research institution, Brater has encouraged innovation through creation of programs and centers. As a calculable measure of the success of his mission, funding from grants and contracts has increased from $133 million the year he became dean to $262 million during the past fiscal year, in spite of the tightening in federal funding for research.
The nine campuses of the IU School of Medicine have improved classroom and research facilities during his tenure. On the Indianapolis campus alone, total research space has increased by 88 percent, from 314,000 to nearly 590,000 assignable square feet.
Much of the expansion of research programs at the school and within the local biomedical industry was made possible with a $105 million Lilly Endowment grant, written in part by Brater. That funding gave rise to the Indiana Genomics Initiative in 2000 and prompted the establishment of research centers and programs, the hiring of additional faculty and the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment for research.
In addition to his roles at the university, Brater chairs the board and the executive committee of BioCrossroads, an Indiana consortium of business, industry and academic organizations dedicated to economic development through advances in the life sciences. He also serves on the board of directors for Indiana University Health and the Riley Children’s Foundation.
A native of Oak Ridge, Tenn., Brater attended undergraduate and medical school at Duke University, where he also completed his internship. His residency and a fellowship in clinical pharmacology were completed at the University of California at San Francisco. He spent one year on faculty at UCSF and nine years on faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center before joining the IU School of Medicine.