IOWA CITY — The next head of the University of Iowa’s sprawling health care enterprise and medical college will be retired U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Denise J. Jamieson, who accumulated decades of leadership and health care experience with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and at Emory University.
Most recently serving as professor and chair of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Atlanta’s Emory University School of Medicine — as well as chief of gynecology and obstetrics for Emory Healthcare — Jamieson, 58, will start Aug. 1 as UIHC vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine.
She’ll make an annual salary of $1.3 million, according to an offer letter saying her “experience and skill set are an excellent match for the position, and that your direction, guidance, and leadership will enhance education, research, and clinical care at Iowa.”
The appointment, according to the letter, “continues subject to our discretion (and yours), but not beyond June 30, 2028 unless it is extended or renewed.”
Breaking down her pay, the UI offered Jamieson a $900,000 base salary for her tenured faculty appointment; a $300,000 administrative supplement for her vice president role; and another $100,000 supplement for her deanship.
She was one of two finalists in a second search conducted to replace Brooks Jackson, who announced in 2022 he would resign and resume research as a faculty member. Jackson in the 2022 budget year made $1.28 million, according to the state salary database. His current salary, according to the university, is $1.06 million.
Jamieson, according to her offer letter, will report to both UI President Barbara Wilson and Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel. She’ll oversee and maintain an “integrated strategic plan” for all of UI Health Care — including the Carver College of Medicine, the UI Physicians faculty practice plan and the UI Hospitals and Clinics, which reported a net position of $2.3 billion in fiscal 2022.
Among her duties, the letter said, Jamieson will “build, manage, and evaluate the leadership team of UI Health Care,” including the hospitals and clinics chief executive — a top job currently filled on an interim basis by Chief Nurse Executive Kim Hunter.
Hunter stepped in more than a year ago when former CEO Suresh Gunasekaran left in 2022 to become head of the University of California San Francisco Academic Health System. The UI leadership has been waiting to launch a national search to replace Gunasekaran until after appointing the new vice president for medical affairs.
Other vice president responsibilities outlined in the offer letter include overseeing UIHC facilities planning and implementing the 10-year facilities master plan, which includes building a new inpatient tower on the main medical campus.
She’ll also serve as chair of the UI Physicians group and be responsible for managing a gift from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust. She’ll also serve on the board of the “Musser-Davis Land Company” — created for the sole benefit of the UI medical college.
That company in 2021 reported net assets of $17.8 million — after distributing $1.5 million to the college of medicine that year. In the 2017 budget year, the company’s net assets dropped from $31.9 million to $17.9 million after it distributed $16.7 million to the university in the form of “various funding.” The company distributed $35 million to the UI in 2015, according to public records.
“This company has served as an important revenue source for (the college),” according to Jamieson’s offer letter, reporting the dean post includes about $270,000 of “annual discretionary funding to support strategic initiatives in the college.”
‘Rich and diverse background’
Before Jackson, 69, came to UIHC in November 2017, he had established himself as an internationally recognized AIDS researcher — serving as principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health-funded International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network.
Jamieson also has a history in women’s health and AIDS — starting her CDC tenure in 1999 as medical officer of the HIV team in the Women’s Health and Fertility Branch. From 2000 to 2003, she was a medical officer in the “mother-child transmission and pediatric and adolescent studies” section of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS prevention.
She also for eight years led a CDC “unintended pregnancy, STD, HIV intervention research team,” according to her resume.
Overlapping with her time at the CDC, Jamieson advanced through the professor ranks at the Emory University School of Medicine. The Emory medical school is ranked No. 23 for research and No. 64 in primary care, according to U.S. News & World Report. UI’s medical college is ranked No. 44 in research but No. 19 in primary care.
Jamieson’s first academic appointment came in 1998 as a clinical assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory, making full professor in 2017, when she also was appointed division director of the school’s gynecologic specialties.
After earning her medical degree from the Duke University School of Medicine in 1992 and her master’s in public health from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1991, Jamieson trained at the CDC and began her military service in 1997.
Starting as lieutenant of the U.S. Public Health Service, she advanced to captain by 2008 — serving over the years on national emergency response teams during a monkeypox outbreak in 2003; Hurricane Katrina in 2005; the Ebola crisis in 2014; and the Zika virus in 2016.
Upon retirement from the Public Health Service in 2017, Jamieson received the Distinguished Service Medal — the highest honor for a commissioned corps officer — for “notable contributions to reproductive health and public health practice.”
Clinically, Jamieson practices obstetrics and gynecology at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Her scientific work focuses on emerging infectious diseases in pregnancy — with projects addressing health disparities and social determinants of health in the context of maternal morbidity and other adverse pregnancy outcomes.
In a statement announcing her hire, UI President Wilson praised Jamieson’s “rich and diverse background of experiences” as allowing her to lead UI Health Care “as we partner with Iowa communities to expand access to health care.”
“I was particularly impressed with Dr. Jamieson’s ability to bring people together and create a culture that supports the success of everyone in the organization,” Wilson said.
Jamieson’s selection comes after a first attempt to replace Jackson last year failed.
Although the UI brought four finalists to campus in August — a diverse pool from Dartmouth Health, University of Chicago, the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the University of Nebraska College of Medicine — the chosen finalist, who was not publicly identified, turned down the job “due to family obligations.”
That UI relaunched the search process in December.
Jamieson visited campus May 1 for a public forum. The other finalist, University of Illinois College of Medicine Executive Dean Mark I. Rosenblatt, visited May 8.
Both Rosenblatt — who also serves as associate vice chancellor for physician affairs at University of Illinois Health — and Jamieson spoke about growth, as UIHC is embarking on a multitude of construction projects totaling more than $1 billion.
Traits of ‘utmost importance’
Jamieson said she thinks UIHC’s “real opportunity for growth here is in rural areas.”
“The question is, what does that look like?” she told those attending the May 1 forum, steering her answer toward growth via collaboration. “One of the really important pieces of this is to have conversations with other health entities. … It’s really important to have frank conversations with other hospitals, other health systems, and then stakeholders.“
UIHC executives have justified explosive growth plans by citing crowding across inpatient units and long waits in the emergency room.
“It’s important to get out and find out how people in Iowa feel about the University of Iowa,“ Jamieson said. “How they feel about health care, what the barriers are, why they come here, why they don’t come here, what the parking situation is?”
UI Provost Kregel praised Jamieson’s communication and problem-solving skills.
“These traits will be of utmost importance as Dr. Jamieson leads our Carver College of Medicine and academic health care system,” Kregel said Tuesday in a statement.
And to her response of being chosen for the job, Jamieson — who shared during her forum this month that she was riveted by the UI women’s basketball team and considered herself a “convert” — said she’s “thrilled and honored.”
“The outstanding reputation of the University of Iowa combined with the available UI Health Care resources and reach — including the vital role that UI Health Care plays in shaping health across the state — make this leadership position unique and allow for broad and far-reaching medical and public health impact.”
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