Allison Brashear, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has been appointed dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine by Chancellor Gary S. May, effective July 22.
Internationally known for her groundbreaking research in movement disorders, she leads a team of neurologists whose clinical, research and innovation focus is on new models of neurological care. She is an active clinician at Wake Forest, where she holds the Walter C. Teagle Endowed Chair of Neurology.
“On behalf of Chancellor May and the entire UC Davis community, I am extremely pleased and honored that Allison Brashear has accepted the nomination to be our dean for the School of Medicine, and I am confident her leadership will continue to propel our school further into national prominence,” said Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor.
Besides being a physician, she holds a Master’s of Business Administration with a focus in health-sector management. “Allison has proven to be an excellent executive physician with expertise in health policy, hospital-clinical integration, and academic and research excellence,” said David Lubarsky, UC Davis Health vice chancellor and chief executive officer, to whom Brashear will report. “She is also a lifelong champion of inclusion and patient-centered care.”
Rare neurologic disorders
Brashear is an expert in ATP1A3-related diseases, a spectrum of rare neurologic disorders. They include a unique genetic form of dystonia Parkinsonism known as Rapid‐Onset Dystonia‐Parkinsonism, or RDP, which she described as a principal investigator. Her group subsequently reported on the genetic mechanism responsible for RDP, published in the journal Neuron in July 2004. With funding from the National Institutes of Health since 2008, her team has published more results in numerous other academic journals, including Lancet Neurology, Brain and Neurology.
She is also the lead principal investigator in many multicenter trials for the treatment of cervical dystonia and spasticity, leading to federal approval of three medications helping patients with these neuromuscular disorders. She was the lead author on the pivotal paper, “Intramuscular Injection of Botulinum Toxin for the Treatment of Wrist and Finger Spasticity After a Stroke,” published in The New England Journal of Medicine; and she leads the Wake Forest NeuroNext Clinical Site, one of 25 sites in a clinical trial network funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Bright funding picture
She is joining a school of medicine ranked 18th nationally in neurosciences funding, with $79.6 million in grants in fiscal year 2017. UC Davis has seen 220 percent growth in NIH funding since 2007. In fact, UC Davis has become a leading school for NIH grants: Ten departments at the School of Medicine are ranked in the national top 20, including three in the top 10, for research funding.
In 2018, the School of Medicine was the most funded school or college at UC Davis, with total NIH funding surpassing $178 million, including grants of $1-million-plus to 41 principal investigators and grants of $5-million-plus to three investigators. In just the past two years, the campus moved from 45th to 30th among “Best Medical Schools: Research” in U.S. News & World Report’s graduate school rankings.
UC Davis School of Medicine is also a leading academic and medical training institution. In the most recent U.S. News rankings released this year, the school earned a ninth-place ranking in the U.S. for primary care, a 13th-place tie in family medicine and 13th for its obstetrics and gynecology medical program.
‘Remarkable forward momentum’
“Dr. Brashear is coming to UC Davis at a time of remarkable forward momentum in the areas of research, academics and patient care,” Vice Chancellor Lubarsky said. “We couldn’t be more excited to have her leadership for our outstanding faculty, staff and students as we take our university to even greater prominence and national distinction.”
Brashear will work closely with a soon-to-be-named new dean for the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. The deans will jointly develop models for integrated care delivery and the advanced practice of health care for both disciplines. Faculty members from each school practice at the UC Davis Medical Center and its regional clinics. The UC Davis Medical Center is the only nationally ranked hospital in Sacramento, and it is regularly ranked in the top 50 of all hospitals nationwide.
Lars Berglund, vice dean of research, has been serving as the interim dean of the School of Medicine since April 2017 and will continue in this role until Brashear’s arrival. “We are grateful to Dean Berglund for his steady hand and dedicated leadership over the past two years — a time during which the School of Medicine has continued to improve greatly,” Provost Hexter said.
Improving our country’s health care
Brashear described UC Davis as “exceptionally strong in key areas that are important for a leading academic health system: translational and basic science, primary care, with nationally ranked clinical programs that build upon an exceptional NIH research portfolio..”
“These strengths combine to make UC Davis poised to be a leader in improving the health of the country.”
She has long been committed to advancing women in leadership across academic medicine and she looks forward to continuing that effort at UC Davis. “The emphasis on inclusion at Davis, within so many different groups among faculty, staff and students speaks to my lifelong commitment to diversity,” she said.
She spent her undergraduate years at DePauw University in Indiana, where she was an honor scholar and received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1983. She received her medical training at the Indiana University School of Medicine, graduating with her M.D. in 1987 and completing her residency in neurology in 1991 — and she ultimately became a tenured professor of neurology there, serving until 2005 when she was appointed chair of neurology at Wake Forest.
Leadership training and an MBA, too
She completed the Harvard School of Public Health Leadership program for physicians in 2004; and the Executive Leadership Academic Medicine, a yearlong national program for female leaders, in 2007. She earned her MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in 2012.
She had a fellowship with the Council of Deans of the Association of American Medical Colleges in 2014-15.
Brashear serves on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke study section focused on career development, and also has served on the boards of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neurological Association.
She and her husband, Clifford Ong, have two children, Richard, 22, and Diane, 19.