The University of Kansas Medical Center has named Akinlolu O. Ojo, M.D., executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, where he will oversee the Kansas City, Salina and Wichita campuses for the School of Medicine, effective August 26, 2019.
“We are pleased that Dr. Akinlolu Ojo will join us to lead the three campuses that make up the KU School of Medicine,” said Robert D. Simari, M.D., executive vice chancellor for the University of Kansas Medical Center. “Dr. Ojo’s diverse and rich background and experience in clinical care and research made him the ideal candidate to lead our medical school.”
Ojo is currently associate vice president for clinical research and global health initiatives and professor of medicine and health promotion sciences for the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. Board certified in nephrology, he also serves as an attending physician at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson and has clinical interests in chronic kidney disease, health disparities and kidney transplantation.
A national leader in research with more than $95 million in current grant funding and more than $200 million in total federal research grant awards during his career, Ojo is a member of the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Panel on Urologic and Gastrointestinal Devices and has been elected into the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians and the American Clinical and Climatological Association.
His primary research interests are in the clinical epidemiology and clinical and translational research in chronic kidney disease and kidney transplantation; minority health and health disparities; and global health. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts.
“It a great privilege to serve as the next executive dean of the 15th-largest allopathic medical school in the nation and the only one in Kansas,” Ojo said. “I look forward to joining hands with the entire KU Medical Center community to advance the important missions of the KU School of Medicine. I am confident that our concerted efforts and focused collaboration with numerous stakeholders will accelerate discoveries in precision medicine and population health that will improve the health and well-being of the people of the great state of Kansas.”
Ojo earned his medical degree from the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos in Lagos, Nigeria. He also earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he rose to the rank of full professor in the Department of Medicine. He also was inaugurated as the Florence E. Bingham Research Professor in Nephrology, becoming the first African American to be granted a named endowed professorship at the University of Michigan Medical School.
Ojo has held leadership roles on major national programmatic initiatives, including a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-funded program that has financially supported donation-related expenses for nearly 10,000 live organ donors and was recently highlighted by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar.
After medical school, Ojo served as a postdoctoral fellow in public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama, and continued his training at the University of Kentucky Hospitals in Lexington, Kentucky, where he completed an internship and residency, and he also served as chief resident for internal medicine. He completed his education at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, where he served as a clinical fellow and research fellow in nephrology.
Ojo will replace Simari, who was named executive vice chancellor in July 2017 and has continued to serve as executive dean while a national search took place.
Thomas Angel’s journey has been anything but normal.
A decade of overseas deployments, microfracture surgery, and an application to the University of Kansas on a whim have all contributed to his dream of becoming a neurosurgeon.
Thanks to the power of the Jayhawk Career Network, Angel connected with H.C. Palmer, a veteran and retired physician.
“I just really think that our relationship, no matter what, is not a medicine mentorship,” Angel says. “I think it’s a life mentorship.”
Palmer, c’59, m’63, and Angel discussed their relationship in a video that premiered at the 2019 Rock Chalk Ball.
Thomas and H.C.’s story is just one of many mentorships made possible through the Jayhawk Career Network. The Jayhawk Career Network gives students and alumni access to career resources, jobs, events, programming and connections at every stage of their career. Services include KU Mentoring, a job board, informational articles and more. For more information about the Jayhawk Career Network, contact Kristi Laclé, assistant vice president for the Jayhawk Career Network, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Access to health care is critical for us all, no matter where we live,” said Chancellor Doug Girod. “This will become even more important as our state’s population continues to age in the coming years, further increasing demand. With many of the counties in our state remaining medically underserved, KU has a distinctive responsibility to help fill that need.”
Watch the video below to see how faculty and staff at the Salina Health Education Center are educating the next generation of physicians and nurses. Read additional coverage in issue No. 1, 2019, ofKansas Alumni magazine.
Thomas Angel took the long road to the University of Kansas, but he’s making sure his time here counts. Thanks to the power of the KU Mentoring platform, Angel connected with a practicing surgeon who he will shadow over winter break.
Coming to KU
After nearly a decade deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait, Angel tore his PCL and had microfracture surgery. He chose to be “med boarded out” and applied to the University of Kansas on his girlfriend’s recommendation.
Angel is pursuing a double major in Latin and behavioral neuroscience, the latter of which requires an extensive amount of shadowing to be accepted into medical school. After studying abroad in Italy last summer, he was looking for a mentorship with someone in his dream career of neurosurgery.
Making a Connection
After learning about the KU Alumni Mentoring platform through the Student Alumni Leadership Board, Angel jumped at the opportunity. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is to find doctors who are willing to let students shadow,” he said.
One of the recommended mentors was Dr. John Aucar, c’82, MD’86, an acute care surgeon and KU alumnus. Angel connected with him through the platform and they set up a meeting that Saturday.
“When I met Dr. Aucar we immediately made a connection. My first duty station was in El Paso, Texas, and he practices in the area. Over winter break he’ll be in El Paso, and he invited me to join him. To be able to meet a mentor that you instantly click with, can have a successful relationship with and both benefit in different ways from the experience is a dream come true.”
Angel wants to be a neurosurgeon, a goal that comes with seven to eight years of residency. With that much preparation required, he strives to make his experiences count.
“My number one goal for job shadowing is to make a personal connection with the person I’m shadowing. Beyond that, it’s about making sure you understand what’s actually happening. A lot of times, especially with medical, the doctors aren’t teachers. You have to work to get answers from them. It’s easy to just stand and watch, but understanding why they’re doing it is my key to shadowing.”
Helping Students Succeed
Since arriving at KU, Angel has taken advantage of the many opportunities provided to him, including joining the Student Alumni Leadership Board to add a voice for students like him. “I wanted to find a niche on campus for non-traditional students to be in leadership positions. I saw it as a place for me where my opinion matters and where I can help create and shape [Student Alumni Network] events.”
Angel draws from a completely different set of experiences compared to traditional students, but he wants those in his shoes to know that they belong on this campus.
“The KU community is completely different than how you think it would be from the outside looking in. I am involved in several different clubs and boards around campus and fit in just fine. I’m 12 years older than my average peer at this stage in my academic career and I learn things from them daily, and I hope that they learn from me just as well. Non-traditional students have life experiences and stories of their own that can positively impact this campus.”
A group of ten Jayhawks explored the Galapagos Islands in January through the Flying Jayhawks alumni travel program.
The Galapagos Islands were designated the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 and have been described as a “unique living museum and showcase of evolution.”
The archipelago, from which Charles Darwin conceived his theory of evolution by natural selection, is one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world.
After a day of touring in Quito, the group cruised through the archipelago. Some highlights of the eight-day trip included swimming with sea lions and snorkeling with tropical fish; exploring remote coralline beaches and secluded inlets; and visiting historic places such as the Charles Darwin Research Center and Cerro Brujo, one of the first sites visited by Darwin.
An optional extension of the trip allowed travelers to spend additional days touring Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Marcia Anderson, n’60, shared two photos of the travelers with us. The first photo is of seven members of the group, all of whom are affiliated with the KU School of Medicine. The second photo includes the full group of Flying Jayhawks.
L-R: Millie Foster, JoAnn Kemp, Jane Yourdon, Judy Frey, Kenn Goertz, Sallie Page-Goertz, Pheny Aldis, John Aldis, Bob Anderson, Marcia Anderson
For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, or to sign up to receive emails or brochures about future adventures, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.