Polonsky named dean of medical school at University of Chicago

Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the Department of Medicine, has been named dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago.

In announcing the appointment, University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer cited Polonsky’s strong record in research, education and clinical care and deep roots at the University of Chicago. Polonsky previously served as the Block Professor of Medicine and section head of the endocrinology division.


Polonsky came to Washington University School of Medicine in 1999. In addition to his role as head of medicine, he also is physician-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and chair of the Washington University Faculty Practice Plan board of directors.

“We extend our heartfelt congratulations and fond appreciation to Ken Polonsky,” says Larry J. Shapiro, MD, dean of Washington University School of Medicine and executive vice chancellor for medical affairs. “During his chairmanship, the Department of Medicine has grown substantially and even further established itself as one of the premiere medicine departments in the country. His energy, vision and leadership skills will leave a lasting mark on the department. Because of Ken’s acumen, clinical revenue and research support both have grown significantly. The faculty of the department is larger, stronger and internationally renowned, due particularly to Ken’s skill and passion for mentoring and recruitment.”

During Polonsky’s tenure, the Department of Medicine significantly increased the number of faculty on the clinical track and recruited outstanding faculty at all appointment levels. The department’s clinical practice is one of the largest in the nation. In addition to opening clinical locations in west and south St. Louis County, and outstate Missouri, Polonsky also played a key role in the expansion of oncology programs, in association with the Siteman Cancer Center.

“It has been an honor and a great pleasure for me to serve as the chairman of the Department of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine for the past 11 years,” Polonsky says. “This is truly a great institution, and the lessons I have learned here will serve me well for the rest of my career.”

The department has been extremely competitive for research support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other sources. Polonsky was named principal investigator of the Clinical and Translational Science Award the School of Medicine received from the NIH in 2007, a $50 million grant. He has led the new Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences, which is dedicated to promoting research efforts in humans.

Polonsky assumes his new role Oct. 1. Shapiro said an interim department head will be named, and a search committee will be formed and begin its work within the next several weeks.