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Robert M. Craft, MD Named Fifth Dean of the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Medicine and University Health System, Inc. has named Robert M. Craft, MD as the fifth Dean of the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine (UTGSM) effective August 1, 2023. Dr. Craft will also serve as Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC). Dr. Craft has served as Interim Dean since October 3, 2022, and in that role has led the development of a strategic plan for growth of undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education and scholarly activity that is fully integrated across the UTMC organization and within UTHSC.

"I am absolutely delighted that Dr. Craft has accepted our offer to take on this role. His leadership experience, history with the institution, and collaborative spirit will advance our partnership with the UT medical center and promote all of our collective missions," stated Executive Dean Scott Strome, MD.

"As a native Tennessean and alumnus of three UT campuses, I consider this role a career capstone that fills me with thankfulness for the University of Tennessee and a strong desire to ably serve my alma mater in this capacity," Dr. Craft said.

With over 29 years of experience as an anesthesiologist, medical educator, clinical researcher, and physician leader, Dr. Craft has been a part of the UTGSM community since completing his anesthesiology residency there and joining as a staff anesthesiologist in 1994 after a neuroanesthesia fellowship at Mayo Clinic. During that span, he practiced every sub-specialty of Anesthesiology and served as Program Director of the Anesthesiology residency as well as the Department Vice Chair. From 2015-2022, he served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the UTGSM, during which time the Department significantly advanced its Critical Care and Pain Management Divisions, and initiated three new fellowships (Perioperative Medicine, Pain Management, and Regional Anesthesia). Under his leadership, the anesthesiology residency has grown from 21 to 40 total residents and the Department has expanded to include 40 faculty, 100 CRNA’s and 35 SRNA’s providing patient care at 78 clinical sites across 4 campuses.

Dr. Craft’s passion for discovery led him to build a $3.5M basic science research collaboration between UTK and the Department of Anesthesiology, which was within the top quartile of anesthesiology departments in terms of NIH funding from 2016-2019. His primary personal research interest was in evaluating the efficiency of blood coagulation (thromboelastography) and perioperative optimization, for which he garnered support through foundation, association, and industry-sponsored research grants. He is also a former principal investigator and board member of the Multicenter Perioperative Outcomes Group, a collaboration of sixty hospitals that includes leading academic health systems.

Dr. Craft and has been honored by UT for excellence in teaching and research, including two Excellence in Teaching awards and an Excellence in Clinical Research Award. Additionally, he was selected as an inaugural member of both the UTGSM Academy of Scholars and the UTMC Physician Leadership Academy (PLA). His personal experience with the UTMC PLA led Dr. Craft to develop a parallel seminar series for residents (Resident Leadership Series) as well as the Perioperative Medicine fellowship, both of which center on collaboration with UTK Haslam College of Business. Dr. Craft developed a national reputation as a graduate medical educator through leadership roles in the Association of Anesthesiology Core Program Directors and service as the anesthesiology representative for the Organization of Program Directors Association, and has also served as written examination editor for the American Board of Anesthesiology.

The new Dean envisions strengthening relationships across the UTMC campus and UT system, expanding education of the next generation of physicians, and growing the academic presence at UTMC through improved recruitment and research, all of which align with UTMC’s goal of being a top-tier academic medical center. "I attribute the results of my previous leadership experience to finding alignment while creating collaboration and consensus. I have a strong desire to finish my career by helping to strengthen relationships across the campus, college, and UT system," said Dean Craft.

Posted: August 2, 2023


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