By John Howser
Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, James C. Overall Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, has been named as Dean of the College of Medicine and Executive Vice Chancellor for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He will join UAMS on March 1, 2024.
An interim chair for the Department will be named soon, and a national search to identify Dr. Webber’s successor will be announced in the coming year.
Webber, who is also Pediatrician-in Chief for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, has led the Department of Pediatrics since 2012 as the Department’s clinical staff has grown significantly each year while the hospital has experienced increasing demand for its services. Because Monroe Carell provides a full range of pediatric specialties and subspecialty services, with some subspecialties or procedural techniques only available at select national centers, patients arrive from across the nation to receive highly personalized care.
“Under Dr. Webber’s leadership the Department of Pediatrics has flourished. Steve has solidly positioned the Department as a national leader with a bright future,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “We are all very grateful for his dedication to caring for all children. I know he will bring tremendous leadership and experience to this important leadership role at UAMS.”
At UAMS, Webber will lead Arkansas’ only M.D. granting medical school and health sciences university. UAMS has approximately 700 medical students on two campuses and is home to 65 ACGME-accredited residency and fellowship programs training approximately 700 residents and fellows. Another 150 family medicine residents train at UAMS’ seven regional campuses.
In 2022, the faculty of UAMS cared for more than 20,000 inpatients, performed 17,580 surgical procedures, and experienced nearly 550,000 outpatient visits. A research institution, UAMS was the recipient of $158 million in external grant funding that year.
“It has been a great honor to serve as Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief at Monroe Carell. I have learned so much from all our faculty and staff, and it has been wonderful to work with so many talented people who are dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families. I plan to take with me to UAMS all that I have learned here at VUMC,” said Webber.
Under Webber’s leadership the Department of Pediatrics has experienced record-setting growth in the number of new faculty, staff and trainees added. Since 2012, 477 new Pediatrics clinicians and faculty have been hired, nearly doubling the department with new faculty coming from across the nation.
The Department is currently comprised of 460 primary faculty and VMG clinicians, 140 secondary faculty, 282 voluntary faculty who practice in the community, 92 postdoctoral fellows, 127 residents and 270 administrative and research staff.
The Department’s robust training programs continue to attract the best and brightest trainees from across the country, and even globally, drawing 1,200 applications last year with five resident trainees originating from other countries.
Since 2012, the Department’s clinical revenues have risen by 83%. The Department now provides care at 30 off-campus locations in a statewide network of care, which includes clinics, after-hours care, emergency room coverage, specialty care, and support for several nurseries and neonatal intensive care units located within other hospitals across Tennessee.
With new patient visits increasing by 20% over the last two years, fiscal year 2023 was the Department’s busiest clinical year ever. In total, Monroe Carell discharged more than 17,000 inpatients while total ambulatory visits for the Department of Pediatrics approached 300,000. Combined with the Pediatric Emergency Department at Williamson Medical Center, which the Department’s physicians staff, total ED visits were more than 67,000.
“It is with both joy and sadness that I celebrate this career change for Dr. Webber. For the past 12 years, I have had the true privilege of watching him grow the Department of Pediatrics across all of our missions: clinical programming, research and education. His thoughtful approach and advocacy for our faculty and patients enabled a great partnership that has steadily advanced the health of children in our region, in our nation and even around the world. He is an outstanding colleague and friend. I wish him the very best in this new endeavor,” said Meg Rush, MD, MMHC, President of Monroe Carell.
The Department remains a top recipient of research grants with more than $101 million from all federal and nonfederal sources. For calendar 2022, the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research ranked the Department No. 4 on its annual list of National Institutes of Health grant-funding recipients among departments of pediatrics within schools of medicine.
Webber is an internationally renowned expert on solid organ transplantation in children. He has received continuous funding for his research for more than 25 years and has published more than 235 peer-reviewed publications and is the co-author of three textbooks in the field of organ transplantation.
He has served as president of both the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study (an international research consortium) and the International Pediatric Transplant Association. He has also served as chair of the Thoracic Committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing and has served on the board of directors of the American Society of Transplantation and the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. He was the inaugural recipient of the Pioneer in Transplantation Award from the International Pediatric Transplant Association.
Webber came to Vanderbilt from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC where he served as chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology, co-director of the Heart Institute, and medical director of the Thoracic Transplantation Program. He is a native of the United Kingdom and graduated from the University of Bristol Medical School, UK. He trained in internal medicine, pediatrics and pediatric cardiology in Great Britain, Canada and the U.S.