When two key City of Hope leaders announced they were stepping down from their administrative roles, staff and faculty quietly wondered what the departures meant. The questions were no surprise to Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer, who spoke at length about the transitions at a recent City Forum.
“These were the sort of inevitable changes that occur in every academic center, and while these were not anticipated at this moment, I fully support and understand them,” Friedman told the audience of more than 300 gathered at Cooper Auditorium on Nov. 19.
A few weeks earlier, Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., director of Beckman Research Institute, and Theodore Krontiris, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for medical and scientific affairs and director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, announced they would soon step down from their administrative positions and return to their research fulltime.
Riggs will continue as professor of biology and emeritus director of Beckman Research Institute. Krontiris will continue as cancer center director until the center completes its Comprehensive Cancer Center renewal process. He will continue as professor of molecular medicine and serve as emeritus director of the cancer center after the National Cancer Institute review.
Friedman acknowledged the pair’s service and recognized their desire to return to scientific inquiry.
He also noted that such changes are common in a large and vibrant institution, and that turnover in staff members is to be expected. On one hand, some staff have left the institution for a variety of family and career reasons, but on the other, several prominent faculty members and administrators joined City of Hope within the past year, as well, he said.
An internal search committee quickly formed to seek a new director for Beckman Research Institute. “We have some really talented people here, and my intention is to complete the selection process before the end of the year,” he said. Richard Jove, Ph.D., chair of molecular medicine and deputy director of the cancer center, will serve as interim director of Beckman Research Institute.
New leadership for the cancer center will take longer, and the institution’s leaders will launch a national search for the position.
In the meantime, Robert Figlin, M.D., the Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan Professor of Medical Oncology and associate director for clinical research in the cancer center, will assume several of the executive vice president’s roles, and Alexandra Levine, M.D., chief medical officer, will oversee academic and programmatic matters related to physicians and their practice in the medical center.
Friedman told faculty, staff and students that progress continues on the institution’s 2007-2013 strategic plan, launched in fall 2006. “This institution has never been so healthy and strong,” he said.
Among the gains in the 2007 fiscal year:
- Dramatic growth in numbers of inpatients and outpatients compared to 2006.
- Clinical programs focusing on hematology and prostate, breast and liver cancers are among California’s largest.
- Expanded facilities include new parking lots, a Population Sciences building, hospice rooms and a renovated hospital unit.
- Planned facilities include the Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine building, which has its groundbreaking set for Dec. 15.
- Fundraising significantly surpassed goals.
Friedman urged staff to tackle the future and build on the strategic plans’ goals, which aim to reduce time from scientific discovery to new treatments, develop therapies to improve quality of life, and find ways to prevent cancer altogether. He also encouraged additional questions, feedback and employee involvement.
To review Friedman’s presentation, click “City Forum” on the City of Hope intranet.