Virginia Tech has named a new dean for its medical school in Roanoke.
Dr. Lee Learman will take over the leadership of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine on July 1. He will come to Roanoke from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, where he is the senior associate dean for academic affairs and graduate medical education.
He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a doctorate in social psychology from Harvard University and has held positions at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and Indiana University School of Medicine.
Learman is an obstetrician and gynecologist and has served on national committees with Carilion Clinic practitioners. He has visited Roanoke to take part in clinical talks and has made some close friendships.
“Through their lens, I have come to understand what’s happening, and it’s all very exciting and very positive. I had a notion that this was developed in a very successful way, and then when I came out and looked at the position, my goodness, it was more than I expected,” he said in a phone interview.
“Amazing things are happening in Roanoke, and I think the catalyst for a lot of that is the relationship that has developed through Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic, and the school of medicine and what is now the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. This a breathtaking opportunity for the region and for each of the institutions to build something unique for the country. That’s what got me interested.”
Tech and Carilion founded the medical school and research institute a decade ago as a public-private partnership. Founding dean Dr. Cynda Johnson retired in December after overseeing the process of the school becoming a college of Virginia Tech.
Medical students have been required to participate in research. Learman said the opportunities are even better now that the institute is doubling in size in Roanoke and the students will have better access to all of the colleges and departments at Tech.
He said during his first six to 12 months he will be learning more about the school and its curriculum and its potential before announcing any changes. One of those changes could be to determine whether the small school will increase its class size, currently 42.
Learman was selected by a search committee that included Tech’s president and provost and Carilion’s CEO and chief medical officer.
Provost Cyril Clarke said a national firm brought the committee a very strong and deep applicant pool, from which they held deep screening interviews and then selected a short list of four candidates who were brought to campus.
Learman came in November and gave a public lecture on how changes in health care affect the education of medical students.
“We were looking for an individual who would be a good representation of the expectation in terms of academic experience and scholarship. And we were looking for someone who would be able to communicate in very compelling ways with the professional community. Of course we were looking for someone who had experience in leadership,” Clarke said. “He checked the boxes on all those expectations and went beyond that.”
Carilion’s Dr. Patrice Weiss said Learman has made significant contributions to medical education, research and clinical care.
“We could not be more delighted about his appointment and everything he will bring to this new chapter for the medical school,” she said.
Learman has a long list of publications and appointments that include roles with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and the Society for Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology.He is former chairman of the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a past member of the ACGME Review Committee for Obstetrics and Gynecology. Learman is 59. He and his wife, Beverly, plan to move to Roanoke in June.