Dr. Mark Schweitzer succeeds Jack Sobel, M.D., who served as dean for the past five years and will continue on the medical school’s faculty.
Mark Schweitzer, M.D., 57, the new dean of Wayne State University School of Medicine and vice president of Health Affairs for the university, is a preeminent radiologist who served most recently as chair of the Department of Radiology at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York.
“We conducted in-depth interviews with a number of outstanding candidates during a yearlong national search, and Dr. Schweitzer’s experience, enthusiasm and vision made him a perfect fit for Wayne State University,” said M. Roy Wilson, M.D., university president.
Dr. Schweitzer succeeds Jack Sobel, M.D., who served as dean for the past five years and will continue on the medical school’s faculty.
In addition to extensive achievements as a researcher and educator, Dr. Schweitzer has served as an administrator in many hospitals, including vice chair for clinical practice and chair of the Information Management Group for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He has served on advisory panels for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration and as a principal or co-principal investigator on more than 30 grants.
A native of Plainview, New York, Dr. Schweitzer received his bachelor of science in biomedical education at the City University of New York and graduated from a combined six-year medical program at the State University of New York at Buffalo at age 23. He completed a residency in diagnostic radiology at Nassau County Medical Center (now Nassau University Medical Center) and a fellowship in musculoskeletal radiology at the University of California, San Diego. He has published extensively, served as a lecturer at Harvard University Medical School, and holds many medical patents.
“I attended inner-city public universities during my undergraduate and medical school training, and I served at public safety net hospitals,” Dr. Schweitzer says. “My passion throughout my career has been education at all levels. The DNA of Wayne State University and the city of Detroit are intertwined, and the university’s national reputation is illustrious. I’m very much looking forward to serving the people of greater Detroit and Michigan.”
Dr. Schweitzer says that his religion and Jewish heritage, including its ethical teachings, are an important aspect of his professional life. He and his wife, Sharyl, a Stern College graduate, and their family live in West Bloomfield and attend The Shul.
Dr. Schweitzer explained more about his career and new position during a recent online video interview.
JN: What was the appeal of this position?
Dr. Schweitzer: My passion is medical education. I like to solve problems — that’s my skill set. I thought I could make a difference.
JN: What are the School of Medicine’s strengths?
Dr. Schweitzer: It has a 150-year illustrious history. There is a can-do attitude of the students and graduates and a commitment to Detroit.
JN: What are your short-term and long-term goals?
Dr. Schweitzer: Wayne State University is the largest single-campus medical school in the U.S. It trains 300 students a year. We need to shore up clinical sites and implement a new curriculum.
JN: What do you see as the biggest challenges for your role?
Dr. Schweitzer: To ensure that medical education is available to students whatever disruptions may occur. (He noted that most medical students couldn’t work in hospitals during the COVID pandemic).
JN: How does Wayne State University School of Medicine rank as a research institution?
Dr. Schweitzer: Toward the upper middle. It’s a good research institution, especially in ophthalmology and visual sciences, basic sciences, biochemistry and population health.
JN: Your biography mentions that you have participated in many clinical trials and hold a lot of patents. Can you describe these?
Dr. Schweitzer: I worked on rheumatological agents for 20 to 25 years. I consult once or twice a year for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
JN: What is the status of the School of Medicine’s relationship with the Detroit Medical Center?
Dr. Schweitzer: I’m hopeful that we can have a positive, mutually beneficial relationship but there won’t be an alignment of incentives. Tenet (the for-profit corporation based in Texas that has owned the Detroit Medical Center since 2013) has to send money to Dallas while the Detroit Medical Center is taking care of poor people. These are different missions but commonalities in our needs. I am open-minded about nonprofits.
JN: What is the status of affiliation talks with the Henry Ford Health System?
Dr. Schweitzer: We are having clinical affiliation talks with a number of institutions. No one institute can take the whole class. We need capacity to handle unexpected situations.
JN: Were you concerned about taking this position given the turmoil among the members of the University Board and the opposition of some toward Dr. Wilson?
Dr. Schweitzer: I met with every member of the board; they initiated it. There was a unanimous vote to support my hiring. I expect a productive relationship. They asked about the (medical school) tuition increase but that was appropriate.
JN: Will the COVID-19 have any impact on medical school curricula?
Dr. Schweitzer: How far does a rubber band stretch? There is inertia. When you let go, does it stretch or break?
JN: What about hospitals? Will they be better prepared for the next emergency?
Dr. Schweitzer: For the next decade, yes. After that, no.
JN: What was your impression of the Canadian health care system?
Dr. Schweitzer: We have some really excellent health care (in the U.S.) but in Canada, at least each province has a system that can manage within its system effectively. Canada has a more holistic training system, which I want to instill here. There is a focus on the broader societal impact — not just treating one patient but all patients with the judicious use of resources.