Harvard hospital leader to head health care at Emory University

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

This story has been corrected from an earlier version to reflect that Dr. Ravi Thadhani will be vice chair of Emory Healthcare’s board of directors.

Emory University has named Dr. Ravi Thadhani, chief academic officer at Harvard University’s flagship teaching hospital Mass General Brigham and a researcher on kidney problems and preeclampsia, to oversee Emory’s health care research and hospitals.

Thadhani will become Emory’s executive vice president for health affairs, executive director of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and vice chair of Emory Healthcare’s board of directors. Those are roles all previously held by Dr. Jonathan Lewin, who served for more than six years but announced last year that he would step down to join the Emory faculty. He left the roles in August of this year.

But where Lewin also served as Emory Healthcare CEO, Emory is splitting the CEO job off as a separate one, as it was prior to Lewin. The CEO will report both to Thadhani and to the board of directors. The position is currently held by an interim CEO.

Thadhani will start his positions on January 1, Emory said.

In an interview Thursday, Thadhani said he was excited.

“What an incredible opportunity,” Thadhani said. “I come from an academic medical center that is trying to evolve and ensure that the academic mission, the clinical care mission, the community mission continues — and the opportunity to do that at Emory represents just an exciting, an exciting one for me.

Former CEO Lewin said that while he had worked to oversee research and as the CEO directly managing the hospitals, both jobs were so big now that it made sense to split them. He praised Thadhani as the executive vice president choice.

“He’s been in the C-suite at a major top-tier medical institution,” Lewin said. “we need to have someone who understands the research enterprise as well as he does.”

Lewin said Emory’s health-related research had grown 65% in the the past six years and had expanded in impact. “Obviously having spent six and a half years trying to build something,” he said, “I really want to see the momentum continued and accelerated. And I think (Thadhani) is somebody who’s exceptionally well qualified to come into that role.”

Thadhani said Emory should be known not just regionally but nationally and internationally as a powerhouse by building on its strengths in immunology, diabetes and global health. Emory is located next door to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and researchers at the two collaborate.

“I think we need to spread the wings in terms of collaborations and interactions with other academic medical centers,” Thadhani said. “And let’s be fair, we also have to make sure that we serve the community well, and people realize that in the region, we are responsible stewards of the mission.”

Thadhani mentioned the fallout from the impending closure of Atlanta Medical Center as one of the challenges he would face in that regard. He said he had more to learn about the specifics of the impact on the Atlanta area but it raises the issue of further crowding the region’s emergency rooms at a time when all hospitals are experiencing a dire workforce shortage.

Emory Healthcare has more than 24,000 employees, 11 hospital campuses and 425 locations.

At Mass General Brigham, Thadhani is a member of the executive leadership team and oversees graduate medical education, professional development and a $2.3 billion research enterprise. Previously, he served as vice dean of research and graduate research education at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles (2017-2019), associate director of research at Mass General Brigham (2012-2017) and chief of nephrology at Massachusetts General Hospital (2013-2017).