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Charles B. Cairns, MD, Named Drexel College of Medicine Dean

April 02, 2019

Charles B. Cairns, MD, will become the next Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Dean and Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs.

Below is a message from President John Fry and Executive Vice President and Nina Henderson Provost M. Brian Blake:

The rich history and broad excellence of the Drexel University College of Medicine has been pivotal to Drexel’s success as a research university. Given the seismic changes confronting medical education it was important to ensure the College of Medicine’s next leader had previous experience as a dean as well as a strong track record managing new clinical partnerships.

We are pleased to announce that Charles B. Cairns, MD, FACEP, FAHA, will become the next Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Dean and Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs. Dr. Cairns will succeed Daniel V. Schidlow, MD, who announced last year that he planned to retire this summer.

Dr. Cairns’ experience as the dean of two distinguished medical schools as well as a recently launched one makes him uniquely qualified to lead Drexel’s College of Medicine at this time. Dr. Cairns, who is currently dean of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, is a leader in emergency medicine and critical care research.

In addition to the UAEU, Dr. Cairns brings significant experience in leadership roles at several other medical schools. He was dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson after serving as assistant vice president for clinical research and clinical trials; vice dean of the College of Medicine; and professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine.

During his tenure, the College of Medicine experienced a record number of applications and yielded one of the most diverse classes in its history. He oversaw a wave of faculty recruitments, a 31 percent increase in research expenditures, and under his leadership the medical school climbed to 51 from 66 in the NIH ranking. Dr. Cairns also led a $1.2 billion partnership with Banner Health, which created one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the country.

At the University of Arizona, Dr. Cairns was the principal investigator of the National Collaborative for Bio-Preparedness, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also served as the director of the U.S. Critical Illness and Injury Trials Group, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Prior to joining the University of Arizona, Dr. Cairns was a professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before that, Dr. Cairns served as associate chief of emergency medicine at Duke University Medical Center and director of emergency medicine research at the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Dr. Cairns has received numerous awards, including the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF) Established Investigator Award, the American College of Emergency Physicians Outstanding Contribution in Research Award and the 2014 John Marx Leadership Award, the highest award of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. He has published more than 200 articles, commentaries and reviews in a number of journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Emergency Medicine, and Academic Emergency Medicine.

Dr. Cairns graduated from Dartmouth College and was a Holderness Medical Fellow at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, where he received the Medical Faculty Award as the outstanding graduating medical student. He completed an emergency medicine residency and EMF Research Fellowship at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He completed his post-graduate training in the Program in Genetics of Complex Diseases at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, and the Health Care Leadership Academy at the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at UNC. Dr. Cairns is board-certified in emergency medicine, a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and a fellow of the American Heart Association.

Dr. Cairns takes over Drexel’s College of Medicine as health care undergoes profound change and innovation. The College of Medicine – which traces its roots back to two of the earliest medical colleges in the United States, including the first medical school for women – continues to evolve and grow, currently educating 1 in every 83 medical students in the country. The College ranks 6th nationally in medical school enrollment with approximately 1,000 medical students. The College ranks in the top 100 medical schools in the country for NIH funding and received more than $47 million in research awards in the last fiscal year.

We would like to thank Dean Schidlow for his inspired leadership as dean over the past eight years as he oversaw the transformation of the undergraduate medical education curriculum and the planned expansion of the College of Medicine with an additional location in collaboration with Tower Health in Reading.

We also want to thank Aleister J. Saunders, PhD, senior vice provost for research, for chairing the dean search, as well as the other committee members for their excellent work in finding a new dean of the College of Medicine. We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Cairns to Drexel.