Fraser named interim head of Department of Medicine

Victoria J. Fraser, MD, has been named interim head of the Department of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Fraser, the J. William Campbell Professor of Medicine and co-director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, will replace Kenneth Polonsky, MD, who has been named dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences at the Pritzker School of Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago.

Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, announced Fraser’s appointment.


“Vicky has been an effective and respected member of our faculty for a number of years and has a broad view of the teaching, research and clinical programs of the department,” Shapiro says. “I have full confidence in her abilities as she takes on the challenges of interim direction of the department.”

Shapiro also recognized Polonsky for his 11-year tenure in the department.

“During his chairmanship, the Department of Medicine has grown substantially and even further established itself as one of the premier medicine departments in the country,” Shapiro says. “His energy, vision and leadership skills will leave a lasting mark on the department.”

Shapiro and Dennis Hallahan, MD, the Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Distinguished Professor of Medicine and head of the Department of Radiation Oncology, will co-chair the search committee, which includes seven faculty members and Richard Liekweg, group president of BJC HealthCare and president of Barnes-Jewish and Barnes-Jewish West County hospitals.

Fraser joined the Division of Infectious Diseases at the School of Medicine in 1991 after completing a three-year fellowship in infectious diseases at what now is Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Her research focuses on the prevention and control of hospital associated infections, such as surgical site infections, blood stream infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia. She and her team study risk factors, outcomes and costs of these infections as well as how to prevent them. This research and the work of the BJC HealthCare Infection Control Consortium has resulted in dramatic declines in rates of hospital associated infections at BJC over the past decade.

Her team now is using national health-care administrative claims data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project to study how to prevent infections and adverse events across the United States. Administrative data is highlighted as one of the growth areas in comparative effectiveness research, with the recent Institute of Medicine National Priorities for Comparative Effectiveness Research report emphasizing the importance of more efficiently using existing data.

Fraser is co-principal investigator of the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences and principal investigator of the research, education, training and clinical development arm. She also is medical director of patient safety at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Fraser earned a medical degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and completed a residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, where she also was chief resident.

Fraser has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Teaching Award; the Academic Women’s Network Mentor Award; the Neville Grant Award; the SHEA Young Investigator Award and the Bi-State Public Health Award.


Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.