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IU School of Medicine research leader to head Robert Wood Johnson diversity initiative


INDIANAPOLIS — David S. Wilkes, M.D., of the Indiana University School of Medicine, has been selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to serve as the new director of the foundation’s program to encourage diversity in medical and dental school faculties.

Dr. Wilkes, who will remain executive associate dean for research affairs at the medical school, will be just the third leader of the 30-year-old Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, foundation officials announced today.

Dr. Wilkes succeeds James R. Gavin III, M.D., Ph.D., who has served as director of the program since 1993. The Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program has supported the efforts of more than 200 physicians and dentists from disadvantaged backgrounds to become leaders in academic medicine.

The program provides mentoring along with four-year research awards of $420,000 to young faculty and postdoctoral fellows selected from a nationally competitive pool of candidates. Alumni of the program, who included Dr. Wilkes, have risen to numerous leadership positions in academic medicine across the country, including three directors of institutes within the National Institutes of Health.

“I’m honored to be selected to lead this program and will work to continue the invaluable leadership of Dr. Gavin,” said Dr. Wilkes, August M. Watanabe Professor of Medical Research at the IU School of Medicine.

“This program is a key resource in ensuring that the ranks of top academic researchers and leaders include talented people from all backgrounds — diversity that strengthens all of their institutions,” Dr. Wilkes said.

“We are pleased that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has placed its confidence in David Wilkes and the IU School of Medicine to provide the leadership and administration for this important program,” said D. Craig Brater, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine.

“The Harold Amos program supports our commitment to a health profession that reflects the patient population it serves,” Dr. Brater said.

Dr. Wilkes is a pulmonologist whose research focuses on the immunobiology of lung transplants. He is founder and scientific director of ImmuneWorks Inc., an Indianapolis life sciences startup company.

The administrative headquarters of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program has been at the IU School of Medicine since July 2007.