Sunday, August 17, 2009
Physician-Scientist Stephen N. Davis Leads Research Projects Totaling $10 Million
Stephen N. Davis, M.B.B.S., an internationally recognized endocrinologist and research scientist, is joining the University of Maryland School of Medicine as the Theodore E. Woodward Endowed Chair, and the Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine. In his new role, Dr. Davis will also be Physician-in-Chief at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dr. Davis was recruited from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee. He will lead the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s largest department, with over 300 full-time faculty members of both physicians and scientists. He is an endocrinologist who has devoted his career to research and patient care, focusing on treating adults with diabetes and metabolic disorders, as well as studying the biological basis of certain diabetes-related complications.
“As a renowned physician-scientist, Dr. Davis will be most suited to provide excellent clinical and scientific leadership of the Department of Medicine here at the School of Medicine,” says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., dean of the School of Medicine, vice president for medical affairs of the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “During his 30-year career, Dr. Davis has balanced his award-winning diabetes research program with providing excellent patient care, while excelling at various leadership roles within his institution and in the international medical community at large. His career is the embodiment of the mission of the University of Maryland School of Medicine — to combine world class patient care with top-tier cutting-edge scientific research. We are very pleased that Dr. Davis will lead our Department of Medicine,” says Dean Reece.
“Dr. Davis has a distinguished reputation as a physician leader, educator and a scientist. We look forward to working with him as he takes the helm of our largest department, caring for patients with a full range of complex medical conditions,” says Jeffrey A. Rivest, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center. “In addition, with Dr. Davis’ expertise in diabetes, he will be a tremendous asset to the Joslin Diabetes Center, one of the most prominent programs within our Department of Medicine, which provides comprehensive care and education for people living with diabetes,” says Rivest.
The Department of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine was created at the school’s founding 202 years ago. Dr. Davis will be the 13th chairman to lead this nationally recognized department. The department is responsible for training 145 residents and 77 fellows. It has been very successful scientifically and currently receives almost $150 million in annual extramural research funding to support its comprehensive laboratory and clinical research programs.
The department includes 11 divisions and one specialized program: Cardiology; Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition; Gastroenterology and Hepatology; General Internal Medicine; Geographic Medicine; Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine; Hematology/Oncology; Infectious Diseases; Nephrology; Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology; and the Occupational Health Program. The Department of Medicine has a global reach, with research programs in many countries, and in regions such as South America and Africa.
A native of the United Kingdom, Dr. Davis earned his medical degree from London University and did his specialty training at the Royal College of Physicians. Dr. Davis joined Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1988. He was promoted to Director of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, and professor of medicine, molecular physiology and biophysics. Most recently, he also served as associate director of the General Clinical Research Center at Vanderbilt, and for five years, ending in 2002, he was director of the Nashville Veterans Affairs/Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International Research and Training Center.
He has been recognized with many distinguished awards throughout his career, including the Novartis Award for Diabetes Research in 2000 — considered to be the highest honor in that field of research. He was named a Fellow of the American College of Physicians in 2009, a Fellow of the American College of Endocrinologists in 2008 and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 2001.
Dr. Davis currently leads research projects with extramural funding totaling $10 million.
His research focuses on the mechanisms that defend against a falling blood glucose level, a condition known as hypoglycemia. “Hypoglycemia is the complication of diabetes that patients fear most,” explains Dr. Davis. “Complications that can be associated with diabetes include blindness, kidney failure and even coma or death.” Some diabetics suffer from frequent episodes of hypoglycemia, even as often as several times each week. Dr. Davis’s laboratory has found areas in the brain that act to blunt the body’s ability to protect itself against hypoglycemia. Each episode of hypoglycemia triggers these areas of the brain to send out signals that make it more difficult for the body to defend itself against subsequent episodes of low glucose levels in the blood. Dr. Davis also has identified promising new treatments and interventions that counteract these mechanisms and stimulate the body’s ability to defend itself against hypoglycemia.
Dr. Davis also explores the mechanisms that cause increased heart attacks and strokes in diabetic patients, most (65 percent) of whom die from such events. Dr. Davis is the author of more than 110 peer-reviewed articles and 50 textbook chapters and review articles.
“I am honored by the opportunity to take on this leadership role at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, an institution with a distinguished history, including being the first public medical school in the U.S.,” says Dr. Davis. “I want to thank Dean Reece for this great honor. I am also very pleased to be succeeding Dr. Frank Calia who has been an outstanding leader of this department, which has flourished on his watch. I hope to continue that momentum. I am looking forward to leading the Department of Medicine into a new, dynamic era of research and patient care defined by cutting-edge discoveries in emerging areas of science including genomics, stem cell biology and metabolic disorders.”
“Our goal is to offer our patients the finest care and most effective and innovative treatments, and recruiting such top-notch specialists and physician leaders as Dr. Davis enables us to fulfill our mission,” says Robert A. Chrencik, president and chief executive officer of the University of Maryland Medical System. “We believe that Dr. Davis is the right person to lead our Department of Medicine to even greater advances in patient care and research.”
Dr. Davis and his wife, Frances, have three sons — Ian, Stuart and Hugh.