Leadership Update in UF Health

Published: April 30th, 2019

Category: Memos

W. Kent Fuchs, President

After an extensive national search, I am very pleased to announce today that I have appointed David R. Nelson, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health. For nearly a year now, Dr. Nelson, also a professor of medicine and assistant vice president for research at UF, has done an admirable job as the interim in this important role for our academic health center, and has impressed faculty, staff and students alike with his ability to ensure our research, teaching and patient care missions have continued to move forward on their upward trajectory.

He has successfully guided operations for all components of UF Health, with campuses in Gainesville and Jacksonville. This includes our six health science colleges, nine interdisciplinary research centers, two hospital systems and more than 100 physician practices. In recent months, he has already begun to hold important and collaborative conversations with key leaders at the health system and the university aimed at strategically positioning the system for smart growth; enhancing operations; supporting faculty, staff and students; and fostering a diverse, inclusive and equitable community. He also has continued to explore ways to optimize the speed of the translation of research, bringing science to the bedside and to the community to improve patient care for individuals and populations.

At the same time, Dr. Nelson continued this past year to direct the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, which he has led since 2010. The CTSI has served as a catalytic hub for translational science at UF, throughout the state and across the country. The CTSI has received two National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Awards totaling more than $42 million since 2009, and he helped drive the institute’s mission to speed the translation of scientific discoveries into better health by transforming the university’s ability to advance research across a wide range of disciplines, diseases and populations.

In total, Dr. Nelson — who with his wife, UF Health anesthesiologist Jill Freedman, raised their two sons in Gainesville after they were born at UF Health Shands Hospital — has spent 26 years working at UF’s academic health center. An expert in liver disease, his research has generated more than $80 million in funding and he has authored more than 200 publications. He has held multiple leadership roles in his area of expertise, co-authoring the U.S. treatment guidelines for hepatitis C and representing the United States on the World Health Organization HCV guidelines committee. As a principal investigator on basic science, translational research and training grants, he co-leads an international hepatitis C research network and oversees multiple ongoing clinical trials.

In 2013, he was recognized for one of the Clinical Research Forum’s Top 10 Clinical Research Achievements related to his clinical trials work on hepatitis C; in 2014, he received the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Learning Health System Research Champion Award; and in 2018, he received the FDA’s Regulatory Science Excellence Honor Award. He has continuously been recognized as one of America’s top physicians/gastroenterologists and has been the recipient of multiple exemplary teaching awards, an outstanding alumnus award from his medical school, a UF Research Foundation Professorship Award and a UF Term Professorship Award.

Dr. Nelson received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his medical degree from SUNY Upstate University in Syracuse, New York. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Massachusetts and completed fellowship training in gastroenterology and hepatology at UF.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Nelson and welcoming him to this instrumental role. The university will greatly benefit from his insights and thoughtful leadership. We will soon announce receptions I will host in his honor in Gainesville and in Jacksonville, where faculty, staff and students at UF Health can join me in celebrating his appointment.

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