Updated March 28 at 12:29am
health care

Five Questions With: Dr. Jack Elias


Dr. Jack Elias, a specialist in pulmonary medicine who currently serves as chair of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, was named the new dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown University, including the Warren Alpert Medical School, on June 27. He will officially begin work on Sept. 1, succeeding Dr. Edward J. Wing.

Providence Business News caught up with Elias in the midst of a whirlwind tour of Providence the day after his appointment was announced.

PBN: What are the immediate challenges you face in coming to Brown?

ELIAS: One of the first things I need to do is understand more about the medical structure and the hospital partners.

The system where I worked before [at Yale] may not be applicable. That’s a challenge personally for me to understand the system, and to make appropriate decisions. With the goal to continue things that are going well and to improve things that may need to be improved.

Brown is a place with an amazing tradition, an amazing educational vision, and that is why I’ve [decided to] come.

PBN: How did the emergence of Brown and Providence as a hub for brain research influence your decision?

ELIAS: Brown has a tremendously unique neuroscience program, from basic biology and neurology to neurosurgery. It’s the prototype of what we need to build more and more of around the nation. We need to keep moving forward in this interactive fashion. John Donoghue and his team at the Brown Institute for Brain Science are stupendous folks. Brown has done a wonderful job in bringing his program along. It’s very exciting.

I can see this place being a real thought leader and clinical leader in neuroscience for many years to come

PBN: How do you see the role of primary care changing in the practice of medicine?

ELIAS: Brown has a very strong tradition in family practice, with a very unique program to help bring people in that direction. The dynamics of medicine are going to change, with the need for more primary care and preventive care. These areas of practice are going to play a bigger role in our medical institutions. Brown will continue to train the next generation of primary care doctors. The foot print in primary care will continue to grow.

PBN: How do you see Brown’s medical school interacting and collaborating with other Rhode Island colleges and universities, particularly in the training of nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants?

ELIAS: A rising tide floats all boats. Brown is very happy to work with people who want to work withy Brown and train health care professionals. I literally learned about the proposed new nursing school an hour ago. I look at the potential to take this area by the medical school and make it into a medical biotech corridor.

PBN: When you first get here, what’s the immediate priority?

ELIAS: I look forward to meeting with all sorts of people. The first couple of weeks here, I’ll be going around with a GPS and trying to find people’s offices and all the people I need to meet. It promises to be a very exciting time.


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