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Duke Has a History of Visionary Leaders

Since the founding of Duke University Medical Center, four men have held its highest position, though the title has evolved over the years. Chancellor Dzau follows in the footsteps of these innovative leaders, whose vision and ideals have been instrumental in Duke's consistent ranking as one of the best health care institutions in the nation. They were recognized researchers in their fields and esteemed clinicians. All four helped create and sustain Duke's commitment to excellence.

Wilburt C. Davison (1927 - 1960)

Wilburt C. DavisonSixty years before the title of chancellor for health affairs was created, Wilburt C. Davison, MD, took the helm of Duke's brand-new School of Medicine as its founding dean. Davison came to Duke from Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his medical degree and served as an associate professor of pediatrics and assistant dean.

Davison also served as Duke's first chair of pediatrics, a title he held from 1927 to 1954. Davison's unorthodox thinking proved highly successful; he espoused flexible educational policies and defied traditional rigidities, while preserving excellent quality of care and education. Davison was so effective that within five years of its founding, Duke was already considered one of the top 10 medical schools in America.

Davison's innovative thinking led to the development of the Private Diagnostic Clinic, which allowed faculty to engage in private practice while maintaining their affiliation with the School of Medicine. This arrangement was later emulated throughout the nation.

Davison received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1913 and went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. During World War I, he served with the American Red Cross in France and Serbia, and then in the U.S. military.

Davison died in 1972.

Barnes Woodhall (1960 - 1964)

Barnes WoodhallBarnes Woodhall, MD, was, like his predecessor, a Johns Hopkins-educated physician. A neurosurgeon, Woodhall pioneered the neuro-oncology department at Duke when he joined the faculty of the School of Medicine in 1937. Woodhall served as chief of Duke's Division of Neurosurgery from 1937 to 1960.

His tenure at Duke was interrupted during World War II when he served as chief of neurosurgery at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, DC. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service.

Woodhall assumed the top position as dean of the School of Medicine in 1960. As dean, he was instrumental in the development of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Cancer Center Isolation Facility.

Woodhall was named vice provost at the same time he assumed the deanship, and he held that title after relinquishing the deanship in 1964. In 1967 he was made associate provost and in 1969 he became chancellor pro-tem and James B. Duke Professor of Neurosurgery. He held both these posts until his retirement in 1974, when he became professor emeritus.

Woodhall died in 1984.

William G. Anlyan (1964 - 1989)

William G. AnlyanThe Medical Center witnessed tremendous growth under the leadership of William Anlyan, MD. Research, teaching, and clinical facilities increased by 2.5 million square feet and the north division of Duke Hospital opened in 1980. He was responsible for garnering international attention for Duke, was known as an innovator in medical education, and was recognized for nurturing the careers of colleagues.

Anlyan was raised in Egypt as the son of a British civil servant. He came to the United States in 1943 to enroll in Yale University, from which he received both his bachelor's and medical degrees. In 1949 Anlyan came to Duke, where he began a residency in general and thoracic surgery. He became an instructor of surgery after completing his residency, and two years later became an assistant professor of surgery.

Anlyan went on to become associate professor of surgery and then full professor before becoming associate dean of the School of Medicine in 1963 and then dean in 1964, succeeding Woodhall. In 1969 he became vice president for health affairs. It was during Anlyan's tenure that the title of chancellor for health affairs was first used. He assumed that title in 1983 and retired in 1989.

Anlyan remains active with the Medical Center as chancellor emeritus and professor emeritus. He has been described by his successor, Ralph Snyderman, MD, as "a longtime leader and visionary and one of Duke's remarkable guiding forces."

Ralph Snyderman (1989 - 2004)

Ralph SnydermanDuring his tenure as chancellor for health affairs, Ralph Snyderman, MD, oversaw the development of the Duke University Health System, one of the few fully integrated academic health systems in the country. He served as its chief executive officer in addition to his roles of chancellor and dean of the School of Medicine.

An immunologist and rheumatologist, Snyderman received his medical degree at Downstate Medical Center of the State University of New York and did his internship and residency in medicine at Duke. He accepted his first faculty appointment at Duke in 1972 as a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, assistant professor of medicine and immunology, and chief of rheumatology at the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center. He rose rapidly through Duke's academic ranks, becoming chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology in 1975. In 1984 Snyderman was appointed the Frederic M. Hanes Professor of Medicine and Immunology.

In 1987 Snyderman left Duke to join Genentech Inc., the pioneering biomedical technology firm, as leader of their research and development efforts. In 1989 he returned to Duke as chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. (Snyderman served as dean of the School of Medicine until 1999, when, for the first time in Duke's history, the positions of the chancellor and dean were divided into separate jobs. From 1999 through 2004, he held the title of executive dean of the School of Medicine.)

Snyderman led Duke's transition from an outstanding medical center to one recognized internationally as a model for academic medicine. During his tenure, the Medical Center expanded from a tertiary-care, hospital-centered institution to an integrated health system that offers a wide range of services in many locations -- from primary care and specialty care clinics across the community, to three hospitals in the Triangle area, to home care and hospice services that reach out to many areas of North Carolina and surrounding states.

In his role as chancellor, Snyderman was often called upon by Congress, the National Institutes of Health, and national policymakers to contribute to the debate on health care reform. He served as chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges and as president of the Association of American Physicians, positions that gave him a platform for promoting new models of health care education and health care services that may define new roles for academic health centers in the 21st century.