Former U-M pediatrics chair recommended to lead UMHS
President Mary Sue Coleman has named noted physician, researcher and health care leader Dr. Robert Kelch to serve as executive vice president for medical affairs (EVPMA) for the U-M Health System (UMHS), pending the approval of the Board of Regents.
The appointment would be a return to U-M—where Kelch received his medical training and spent nearly all his professional career—after nine years in health leadership roles at the University of Iowa (UI). He would succeed Dr. Lazar Greenfield, who has served as interim EVPMA since August 2002.
In his new role, Kelch would oversee all three components of UMHS: the Hospitals and Health Centers, which have more than 11,000 employees and a 2003 operating budget of $1 billion; the Medical School, which has more than 2,100 faculty and 1,500 students and trainees, and received more than $290 million in research awards in fiscal year 2002; and the M-CARE managed care organization, which has 203,000 members. All three are ranked among the best in the nation.
If approved by the regents, Kelch will begin his term Sept. 15.
"Bob Kelch is an outstanding administrator and physician-scientist who is eminently qualified to lead our health system," Coleman says. "I had the distinct pleasure of working with Bob at the University of Iowa and I saw firsthand his accomplishments as dean and vice president. He established a model partnership between the medical college and the hospitals and clinics, greatly improved fund-raising, developed new scientific and educational facilities, and oversaw a significant enhancement in the national stature of that health system. He has broad vision, a deep commitment to the missions of academic medicine, humane understanding and a love for the University of Michigan. I look forward to working with him again."
Kelch served most recently as vice president of health affairs at UI since creation of the position in November 2002. He went to Iowa from U-M in 1994.
"Returning to my alma mater to help lead one of the world's best medical centers is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for me," Kelch says. "I am eager to rejoin the Michigan team, and I am especially pleased to have the opportunity to work once again with President Coleman."
During his time at Iowa, Kelch oversaw a more than 100 percent increase in National Institutes of Health funding for research in the medical college, construction of major new educational and research facilities, development of a new medical school curriculum, and a significant restructuring, expansion and enhancement of health services. Under his leadership, fund raising was enhanced greatly and the college of medicine obtained a $90 million naming gift, the largest gift in the university's history.
A noted endocrinologist who has written more than 110 scientific publications, three books and nearly 100 book chapters, Kelch has specialized in studying the hormones involved in growth and sexual maturation. While serving in leadership roles at UI, he continued to treat patients in the pediatric endocrinology clinic at the Children's Hospital of Iowa.
Kelch was elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine in 1996 and has been named repeatedly to The Best Doctors in America. He is a past chairman of the American Board of Pediatrics and a past president of the Society for Pediatric Research. In addition, he is a past member of the executive council of the American Association of Medical Colleges and currently chairs its advisory panel on research.
His accomplishments at Iowa, combined with his notable credentials and long history at U-M, convinced the EVPMA search committee that Kelch was the right leader for U-M's health and bioscience endeavors, says committee chair Dr. Timothy R. B. Johnson, the Bates Professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"At Iowa, he led a health system that faced many of the same issues we face here and he worked to bring the hospital and medical school together for a better result," Johnson says.
The return to Ann Arbor and U-M would be a welcome one for Kelch. A native of Detroit, he first came to U-M in 1963 as a medical student after receiving his undergraduate degree that year at the Monteith College of Wayne State University.
As valedictorian of his U-M Medical School class in 1967, and as the recipient of the top award for medical residents at the U-M Hospital in 1970, Kelch showed his leadership and academic excellence early in his medical career.
After postgraduate laboratory research training in pediatric endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1970-72, Kelch returned to the U-M Medical School as an assistant professor of pediatrics in 1972. He rose to associate professor in 1975 and professor in 1977. In 1979, he was named acting chair of pediatrics and became chair in 1981a position he held until his departure for Iowa in 1994.
Kelch was named physician-in-chief of U-M's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in 1983 and chief of clinical affairs for all U-M hospitals in 1989, as well as becoming assistant dean for clinical affairs that year. He held those positions until 1992.