David Skorton, ’74 MD, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and a graduate of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has been named the president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
The Association of American Medical Colleges, a not-for-profit association whose members include all accredited U.S. medical schools, nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, and more than 80 academic societies, selected Skorton after a nearly year-long national search.
“Serving the Smithsonian Institution has been one of the great privileges of my career. I am humbled and honored to be returning to my roots in medicine as I commit to build on the transformational leadership of Darrell Kirch,” Skorton said in an announcement published by the AAMC. “Healthcare in this country faces a number of seemingly intractable problems, and the AAMC — rich with data and intellectual heft through the combination of medical colleges, teaching hospitals, and academic societies — can and should be a leading influence in shaping the future of healthcare. As an eternal optimist, I see tremendous potential in harnessing the strength and creativity of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals to tackle the formidable challenges facing healthcare, education and research today.”
As a cardiologist, Skorton has focused his research on congenital heart disease and cardiac imaging and image processing. Before starting his position at the Smithsonian in 2015, Skorton was the president of Cornell University and a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and in Cornell’s Department of Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering. Prior to Cornell, Skorton served as president of the University of Iowa. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and his medical degree from Northwestern University. He completed his residency and fellowship in cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In 2009, Skorton received a Northwestern Distinguished Alumnus Award, and in 2018, he delivered the keynote address at Feinberg’s 159th commencement ceremony. Skorton is a master of the American College of Cardiology, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society and a fellow of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences.
“Dr. Skorton will bring an unparalleled record in higher education, healthcare, and national thought leadership to the challenge of serving and leading America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals,” said Lilly Marks, chair of the AAMC Board of Directors and a member of the search committee, announcing Skorton’s selection. “The AAMC Board was committed to recruiting a proven national leader who would bring an optimistic and inclusive leadership style, an inspiring vision, and a deep and nuanced understanding of academic medicine and healthcare. We found that person in David Skorton, a true national thought leader.”
Skorton will succeed Darrell Kirch, MD, who will have served as AAMC’s president and CEO for 13 years when he steps out of the role in July 2019, at which point Skorton will begin his tenure, according to the AAMC’s announcement.