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Champion of surgical quality named chair of U-M Department of Surgery

Justin Dimick, M.D., M.P.H., approved by U-M Board of Regents

ANN ARBOR, MI – A national leader in helping surgical teams achieve the best results for their patients will soon lead one of the nation’s top surgery departments.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents today approved Justin B. Dimick, M.D., M.P.H. as the next chair of the Department of Surgery at the U-M Medical School.

Beginning June 1, he will oversee a team of more than 135 faculty and hundreds of staff, in a department that dates back to 1849. Together, they perform more than 16,000 surgical cases each year at Michigan Medicine’s hospitals and outpatient surgery facilities, train future surgeons in more than 20 specialties, and advance care through a wide range of research and innovation.

Dimick currently serves as the department’s associate chair of strategy and finance and division chief for minimally invasive surgery. He holds the George D. Zuidema professorship in the Medical School as well as a joint appointment as Professor of Health Management & Policy in the U-M School of Public Health.

He will take the reins from Michael Mulholland, M.D., Ph.D., who has chaired the Department of Surgery for 17 years. Mulholland was approved today as the Medical School’s new senior associate dean for clinical affairs and executive director of the U-M Medical Group.

Focused on quality and leadership

Dimick’s research has revealed widespread variation in how surgery patients fare after their operations, and the importance of surgeon, hospital and policy factors that impact that variation.

His work won him the Medical School’s Clinical and Health Services Research Award, and election to the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the American Surgical Association and the Society of Clinical Surgery.

In addition to his focus on surgical quality, he has championed the mentorship of young surgeons by senior faculty, and the development of leadership skills among academic surgeons.

He has advised many organizations on surgical quality measurement and improvement, from the BlueCross BlueShield Association and the American College of Surgeons to U.S. News and World Report’s hospital rankings team and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

At U-M, Dimick directs the Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy, which brings together more than 100 U-M faculty, staff and surgeons-in-training from many disciplines to study outcomes and quality in acute and specialty care, measure the effects of changes in health policy, and launch large-scale quality improvement interventions.

He has served as president of the Association for Academic Surgery and a member of the editorial leadership teams for Annals of Surgery and JAMA Surgery.

He also served on the inaugural Leadership Team of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, which unites more than 600 faculty members from across the U-M campus who are engaged in health systems and policy research.

Path to leadership

Dimick joined the U-M faculty in 2007 after attending Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University Medical School, and obtaining a Master’s in Public Health at Dartmouth College, and completing his surgical residency at U-M.

He became an associate professor, and the Henry King Ransom Professor, in 2012, and professor and Zuidema professor in 2015.

With a focus on advanced laparoscopic surgery, Dimick has cared for patients at U-M hospitals and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, with operations to address morbid obesity, gastroesophageal reflux, hernias and other conditions. He edits a widely read surgical textbook on surgical decision making and operative technique.

He served as the department’s associate chair for faculty development for four years, before becoming its associate chair for strategy and finance.

“I’m extremely excited to serve Michigan Medicine and the Department of Surgery in this new role. Michigan Surgery has a strong track record of excellence and I welcome the opportunity to build on this legacy,” says Dimick. “To provide timely, high quality care to our patients, we must embrace the challenges posed by our evolving health care environment. This means continuing to strategically expand our clinical programs; promoting diverse areas of discovery; training the future leaders of American surgery; and fostering an inclusive culture that brings forth the very best in our talented faculty, trainees, and staff.”

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