Duane Compton Named Dean of the Geisel School of Medicine

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President Phil Hanlon ’77 and Provost Carolyn Dever announce the appointment of Duane Compton, an accomplished medical and graduate educator, a distinguished researcher, and a seasoned leader, to be the next dean of the Geisel School of Medicine, effective immediately.

Compton, a professor of biochemistry and cell biology, has served as interim dean at Geisel for almost three years and is credited with guiding the recent reorganization of the school, which has sharpened Geisel’s focus on medical education and research and which has provided a stronger financial foundation on which the school can move forward.

“It is critical that Geisel’s next leader have a detailed understanding of the school’s mission and goals as well as its operating structure, including Geisel’s relation to its clinical partners. Duane Compton has both that depth of knowledge and a strategic understanding of Geisel’s future opportunities. Duane’s commitment to Geisel’s success has been clear and unwavering,” says President Hanlon.

Compton says he is looking forward to continuing to lead the school and to facilitate the efforts of the faculty and staff in their work in research and education.

“I am honored to be asked to serve as Geisel’s dean. It is a privilege to be surrounded by such a strong group of faculty, staff, and students who share a dedication and devotion to research, education, and patient care. I look forward to working on their behalf to help strengthen our research and education programs,” says Compton, whose appointment is for a four-year term.

Compton says he is “fully committed to continuing to advance all of Geisel’s key missions in medical education and in discovery, delivery and clinical research. I look forward to working with senior leadership at the College and at Geisel’s clinical partners to achieve these goals.”

Geisel, the fourth-oldest medical school in the country, has about 880 students in MD, PhD, MPH, and MS degree programs, 900 clinical and research faculty, more than 1,000 affiliated faculty, and about 650 staff. The school’s primary clinical partners are Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.; Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt.; and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

The choice of Compton was a natural, says Ross Jaffe ’80, chair of Geisel’s Board of Overseers. He said Compton was an effective leader during Geisel’s reorganization, which was a challenging time for the school.

“Duane was asked to step into the interim role at a difficult time for Geisel, and he has done a remarkable job in guiding the school onto a new and more sustainable path. I am pleased that Duane is being appointed to the permanent dean’s role so that he can continue his efforts to ensure that Geisel is well positioned for the future.”

Compton is held in high esteem by his Geisel colleagues and by researchers in his field, says Provost Carolyn Dever.

“Duane is the right person to take the medical school to the next level,” says Dever. “He is keenly aware of the educational and scholarly opportunities ahead for Geisel and its clinical partners, and he is a proven partner in the biomedical research enterprise across Dartmouth’s campus and beyond. He is the right leader to propel Geisel forward.”

Before becoming interim dean, Compton served as senior associate dean for research at Geisel. He has also held the positions of associate director for basic sciences and director of the Cancer Mechanisms Program at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Compton, an internationally renowned cell and cancer biologist, was recruited to the faculty at Dartmouth in 1993.  He received his PhD from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and completed his postdoctoral training in cell biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Since his arrival at Dartmouth, he has maintained a continuous record of funding through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as many private foundations. In 2013 he received an NIH MERIT Award in recognition of his research on the mechanisms of chromosome segregation during cell division. MERIT awards recognize researchers who have demonstrated superior competence and outstanding productivity in research endeavors.  He has published more than 70 articles, and images of his work have been displayed on the cover of 15 scientific journals.

He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served on more than a dozen national committees, including at the NIH and the American Cancer Society. He has been honored for his work at Geisel, receiving awards for mentorship and teaching. In 2012, he was elected a member of school’s Academy of Master Faculty Educators.

Compton’s commitment to education is evident in the many undergraduate medical courses he has taught, as well as the broad spectrum of trainees he’s mentored over the years, including undergraduate, PhD, and MD/PhD students, and postdoctoral fellows. In addition to his duties as dean, Compton is currently working with three PhD students, one MD/PhD student and two post-doctoral fellows.  He has graduated 15 PhD students, mentored two post-doctoral trainees, and served on committees for more than 50 graduate students.

“I have been fortunate to work with so many talented young researchers in the lab, and I am proud of the discoveries we’ve made together,” Compton says. “In addition, I enjoy my time in the classroom, teaching medical students and graduate students, and I look forward to continuing my research and teaching.”

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