Hopkins picks chief physician


Dr. Edward J. Benz Jr., one of the nation's leading specialists in blood disorders, has been selected to become chief of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and physician in chief of the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

His appointment is effective Sept. 1, although it still is subject to confirmation by faculty and physician boards of the medical school and hospital. Those approvals are considered routine.

Dr. Benz, who is chief of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, is a hematologist who has spent many years studying the molecular basis of inherited anemias such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia. Anemias belong to a family of diseases in which blood cells are unable to carry sufficient oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body.

He will be the Osler professor of medicine at Hopkins, a position named after Sir William Osler, one of the medical school's founding physicians and its first chief of medicine.

"Growing up in academic medicine, this is one of those positions you thought nobody would offer you," Dr. Benz said. "I feel very honored to be offered the opportunity."

He noted that Hopkins has a long tradition in the study of anemias, marked most recently by the development of the first effective treatment for severe cases of sickle cell anemia.

Dr. Benz, 47, will succeed Dr. John D. Stobo, who relinquished the position last year to become chairman and chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins HealthCare, an organization that coordinates the managed care relationships of the medical school and hospital and sets up physician networks.

The position has been held on an interim basis by Dr. David B. Hellmann, an associate professor of medicine.

The selection of Dr. Benz was made recently by a search committee headed by Dr. Patrick C. Walsh, director of the department of urology. Although Hopkins officials acknowledged the choice, they did not plan to make a formal announcement for some time.

In a written statement, the search committee said Dr. Benz was "one of the nation's premier leaders in medicine as well as an exceptional teacher and administrator."

As chief of medicine, Dr. Benz will direct the department of internal medicine, a broad field that encompasses the general practice of medicine and practically all the nonsurgical subspecialties. These include infectious disease, cardiology, hematology, endocrinology, gastroenterology and rheumatology -- fields concerned with the heart, blood, hormones, digestive system, muscles, joints and connective tissues.

Dr. Benz earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his medical degree from Harvard University. He began his career as a researcher in the molecular hematology branch at the National Institutes of Health, and then went to Yale as a fellow in hematology. In his 14 years at Yale, he became a full professor in internal medicine and human genetics -- and fTC finally, chief of hematology.

In 1993, he left Yale to become chief of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

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