Paul B. Rothman

Paul B. Rothman has been named the new CEO and dean of Hopkins Medicine. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun / December 19, 2011)

Rheumatologist and college dean Dr. Paul B. Rothman will serve as the next CEO of the $6.5 billion Johns Hopkins Medicine health system, ushering in a new era for the world-renowned medical institution that after a decade of rapid expansion faces the new challenges of an evolving health care industry.

Rothman comes from the smaller and lesser-known University of Iowa, where he is dean of the Carver College of Medicine and leads the university's clinical practice plan. But he brings with him nearly three decades of academic medical experience as a scientist, clinician and administrator, Hopkins executives said Monday in announcing his appointment.

Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels said Rothman has the expertise to guide the medical school through challenges that may come with health care reform and funding constraints that could arise with cuts in federal spending.

"Paul comes to us with a deep understanding of the broad arena of health care," Daniels said. "Undaunted by the current challenges in medicine, he sees this not as a time for retrenchment but as a moment for advancement."

Rothman will also serve as dean of the School of Medicine, which has about 3,800 faculty and 1,400 medical and graduate students. He begins July 1. Hopkins did not disclose Rothman's salary.

He said he was "humbled" by the opportunity to work at Hopkins and that he would take the time to get to know the medical school before considering any new initiatives.

"I am going to spend the first several months here learning more about this institution," Rothman said. "It is very important to understand the culture and traditions of this institution."

He replaces Dr. Edward Miller, who announced earlier this year he was retiring after 15 years as the first CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Miller took over as dean and chief executive in 1997 and oversaw a vast expansion at Johns Hopkins Medicine, creating a conglomerate with six hospitals, suburban health care and surgery centers and more than 30 primary and specialty health care facilities. Expansion under Miller's leadership also includes a new $1.1 billion patient care building, which will open in April.

During a six-month search, a committee of about 20 people chose Rothman from an initial pool of about 180 applicants, Daniels said. He said Rothman had several strengths, including a collaborative spirit and a command of both clinical and basic science. He was also able to form partnerships between the medical school and health systems where he worked.

"It was a very full suite of strengths," Daniels said. "Paul really plays all ends of the keyboard."

Rothman joined the University of Iowa in 2004 as head of internal medicine, where he recruited well-regarded staff, increased its reserves and added new clinical programs. He launched a heart and vascular center and an organ transplant center.

He became dean of the medical college in 2008 after a staff restructuring. Rothman stabilized the college's finances amid cuts in state funding and recruited new leadership. He also opened a branch in Des Moines and overhauled the curriculum.

Jean E. Robillard, vice president for medical affairs at University of Iowa, recruited Rothman to the university. He said Rothman created a research partnership with neighboring smaller universities, developed a program to entice more doctors to practice in rural areas and helped start up a biomedical institute.

"As a department head and when he came on as dean, he had extremely good organizational skills," Robillard said. "He understood the issues of health care and really had a vision for the medical school, and this vision fit well with the university vision.

Rothman was also named, with other school officials, in a civil rights case surrounding a professor in the radiology department accused of creating a hostile work environment by using racist remarks about employees. Rothman referred questions about the case to the university lawyers. Robillard said Rothman was named in the lawsuit only because he was dean, and had little involvement otherwise.

Before Iowa, Rothman spent 20 years in the department of medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He ascended from an instructor to vice chairman for research. While at Columbia, he also served as founding chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, where he grew research dollars fifteen-fold in six years.

Myron "Mike" Weisfeldt, director of medicine at Johns Hopkins, who served on the search committee that chose Rothman, also knew him at Columbia, where Weisfeldt was chair of medicine.

"He is a real leader and has excellent experience in administration," Weisfeldt said. "To lead a large program like Johns Hopkins Medicine, you need to have administrative skills."

Rothman said he hopes to use his past experiences in his new job at Hopkins.

"I've learned some things at Columbia and Iowa that I think are valuable and will help inform my decisions here," Rothman said.

E. Albert Reece, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, trained at Columbia University at the same time as Rothman and knew him through their work as deans at medical colleges.

"My sense is that he is a very smart person who is very astute and I believe that he will use the knowledge he has gained in his current deanship to effectively carry out his new responsibilities," Reece said.

Gene Ransom, CEO of the state doctor's group MedChi, said his group looks forward to working with the new dean, who he said has a challenge in maintaining Hopkins' caliber.

"Sometimes it's harder to take over a team that is winning than losing," Ransom said.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

Twitter.com: ankwalker

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