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Luderer guiding WMU med school during search

May 27, 2010

KALAMAZOO--A longtime medical researcher already deeply involved in the development of Western Michigan University's medical school initiative has been appointed to serve as interim dean of the school of medicine during the national search for the school's founding dean.

Dr. Jack R. Luderer, has been serving for the past five years as executive director of WMU's Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center, a life-sciences translational research center that assists startup companies. He will become interim dean and associate dean of research for the medical school, effective June 1. His appointments were announced May 26 during a regular meeting of the BRCC Board of Governors.

Luderer, a board-certified medical specialist in internal medicine with subspecialty certification in clinical pharmacology, has a background that includes positions as a clinical vice president for Pharmacia Inc. and Upjohn and vice president for research at WMU. In addition to serving in his BRCC role, he has spent the past two years working with WMU President John M. Dunn and the Kalamazoo medical community to develop a new school of medicine in collaboration with Kalamazoo's two major hospitals--Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare--as well as other interested medical organizations in West Michigan.

The Kalamazoo initiative has filed a letter of intent and has been awarded applicant status with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the group that accredits medical schools in the United States and Canada. In late February, a formal search for a founding dean for the school was launched. The national search is being guided by a seven-member search committee made up of representatives from Borgess, Bronson, WMU and the local medical community.

"We have a great deal of momentum in our development work, and now we are seeing an enormous level of interest in the founding dean position," says Dunn. "Our task is to balance our desire to maintain that momentum and our need to take the necessary time to bring the search to a successful conclusion. Dr. Luderer's full attention will be on those two goals. When we have identified the right person to lead the medical school, we expect him to stay on to guide the research enterprise of that school."

Luderer predicts it will be several months before a founding dean will be in place to lead the school. His role as interim dean during that period will allow him to devote his full attention to the medical school initiative rather than continue to juggle both his BRCC responsibilities and his work on the medical school.

"It is no longer possible to do both jobs simultaneously and well," he says. "I am an ideal candidate for the interim position because I have no desire to be dean. I will be delighted to provide a leadership role for the research side of the school in the future, but in the meantime, I will balance the need to move forward with the need to avoid making any decisions that would box in a founding dean."

Because the model being developed is that of a private medical school, and since that legal entity has not yet been created, Luderer will be hired initially by the WMU Research Foundation and will report to the president of the foundation--WMU's president. The nonprofit foundation was established by the WMU Board of Trustees in 2003 to support University research efforts and facilitate the commercialization of patents and other technologies developed at the University.

A school of medicine in Kalamazoo has been under discussion and in the planning stage since late 2007. During a November 2009 meeting, the WMU Board of Trustees endorsed the steps taken to date and voiced its support for the proposal. During that meeting, Dunn announced a $1.8 million anonymous gift made to provide seed money for the next steps in the development process, including the search for a dean.

During the BRCC directors meeting at which Luderer's appointment was announced, Dunn laid out a recommendation that would appoint Luderer to the BRCC Board of Governors. The university anticipates eventually transferring the BRCC function under the umbrella of the new medical school.

"It's a move that will be good for the medical school and good for the BRCC," says Luderer.

Luderer first came to WMU in 2000. Prior to joining the WMU administration, he was vice president of U.S. Medical Affairs at Pharmacia Corp. Luderer first came to Kalamazoo in 1984 to work for the Upjohn Co. He held several positions with that firm, including vice president of clinical pharmacology and vice president of clinical development.

Before joining Upjohn, he was an assistant professor of medicine and pharmacology at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center of Pennsylvania State University. Luderer earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Miami University. He went on to earn a master's degree in organic chemistry at Miami and a medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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