May 26, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 17

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    Pulmonary specialist Garcia joins faculty as Chairman of Department of Medicine

    By John Easton
    Medical Center Public Affairs

    Joe "Skip" Garcia

    Joe “Skip” Garcia, a leading authority on lung biology and disease, the genetics, prevention and treatment of pulmonary edema, and the molecular biology of blood vessels, has been appointed the Lowell T. Coggeshall Professor and Chairman of Medicine. His appointment became effective Sunday, May 1.

    Garcia comes to the University from Johns Hopkins University, where he was the David Marine professor and director of pulmonary and critical care in the department of medicine. He also was a professor of biomedical engineering and environmental health sciences in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. In addition, he directed the occupational lung center at Johns Hopkins.

    “We are genuinely excited about bringing in Skip Garcia as Chairman of Medicine,” said James Madara, Dean of the Pritzker School of Medicine and the Biological Sciences Division and Vice President for the Medical Center. “He is not only a remarkably accomplished scholar with proven leadership ability and a first-rate physician, but his approach to science and medicine has always been one of crossing boundaries. He pulls different disciplines together to work on related problems. He translates basic bench science into the clinic. This is exactly the kind of innovative and imaginative work the University has a reputation for and that we try to pass on to our students.”

    Garcia praised the Chicago faculty and the University’s approach to the practice of medicine. “I’ve been tremendously impressed by the quality and the enthusiasm of the department’s faculty,” said Garcia. “It’s quite an honor to take on a leadership role here. I think Chicago and Hopkins, more than any place else I know, have embraced the notion of combining research and patient care. My goal is to encourage that passion for translational research and to build systems within this department that can make it even more prevalent.”

    Garcia is bringing with him to Chicago most of his research team, including several senior and junior faculty and senior research associates, as well as postdoctoral students and technicians. He also brings considerable federal funding, including a 10-year National Institutes of Health-funded project grant to study “cytoskeletal regulation of lung endothelial pathobiology,” and part of a five-year NIH-funded Specialized Center of Clinically Oriented Research, which will study “molecular approaches to ventilator-associated lung injury.” The two grants total more than $30 million.

    Garcia’s research focuses on a phenomenon called vascular leak, in which blood cells and fluid escape from the small vessels, causing edema in the surrounding tissues, especially the lungs. This often occurs after an acute injury or infection, during chronic inflammation, or in response to the stresses of mechanical ventilation. It causes flooding of the lungs, often leading to death, and can produce lasting organ damage. Garcia’s studies of the basic biology of this process have led to new ways to prevent vascular leak, reduce swelling, inhibit tissue damage and restore the integrity of vessel walls. Several of these approaches have been patented.

    Garcia earned his B.S. in biology from the University of Dallas in 1976, and his M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in 1980. He did his residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He joined the faculty of the University of Texas Health Center in 1985 and moved to the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1988, where he was named the Dr. Calvin H. English professor of medicine in 1995. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1998.

    Garcia has authored or co-authored more than 250 peer-reviewed publications and 25 book chapters. He serves on the editorial boards of six scientific journals, is co-editor in chief for the journal Microvascular Research and associate editor of the American Journal of Respiratory Cell & Molecular Biology and the Journal of Stem Cell Research. He is a past president of the Central Society for Clinical Research, a member of the board of directors for the American Thoracic Society and a member or chairman of several NIH committees.

    He has received many awards, including the American Thoracic Society Distinguished Scientist Award, the Henry F. Christian Award for Meritorious Research from the American Federation of Medical Research and the David M. Levine Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Johns Hopkins University.

    Garcia, who is fluent in Spanish, also has been a student advocate and an active supporter of minority medical and science students. He nurtured more than 20 under-represented minority students at Johns Hopkins, guiding them into M.D. and Ph.D. programs.

    He succeeds Harvey Golomb, a nationally recognized cancer specialist who served as Chairman of Medicine from 1998 to 2005. Golomb, 62, has been appointed Dean of Clinical Affairs for the Pritzker School of Medicine and the Biological Sciences Division.