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VOL. 133 | NO. 142 | Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Strome Set For New Role At UTHSC College Of Medicine

By Michael Waddell

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Respected cancer surgeon and investigator Dr. Scott Strome is excited at becoming a new Memphian. Strome and his family will be moving to the area in the next couple of months as he prepares for his new role as Robert Kaplan Executive Dean of the College of Medicine and vice chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), effective on or before Oct. 1.


“I would say I was looking for a program that really had a very, very strong core in the missions that all academic medical schools face, namely clinical practice, research, education and community outreach, with excellent leadership at the chancellor level,” said Strome, who will be moving from Maryland, where he has served as professor and chair of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery for 13 years at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

He brings research and clinical expertise to his new position.

“From an extraordinary pool of exceptionally well-qualified candidates, Dr. Strome was hands down the best of the very best,” said UTHSC Executive Vice Chancellor and COO Dr. Ken Brown, who chaired the search committee. “Our institution is very fortunate to be able to recruit him from the fine institution from which he comes, and I have no doubt our history will reflect his coming here to be another pivotal time in our successful evolution.”

Strome completed his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, his internship and residency at University of Michigan Medical Center, and a fellowship in head and neck reconstructive surgery at Alleghany Health Education and Research Foundation in Philadelphia.

He became interested in research during medical school.

“I started working with my dad, and he ended up doing the first human voice-box transplant,” said Strome.

Specific areas he plans to focus on in his new role are finding innovative, new ways to educate students and reducing the cost of medical education. He started a philanthropic program to raise money to reduce medical-student debt so that anyone who has the qualifications can afford to go to medical school.

“Probably of equal importance so that people who come to medical school, their career choice is not dictated solely by the amount of money they owe,” said Strome. “I’m also really interested in how we can make the student experience better so that they feel supported during their tenure as medical students and so that the materials we teach them – there’s such a vast amount of material – we can teach them in a way that they retain and they continue to learn throughout their careers.”

He sees a need to teach a little differently to students depending if they are on the path to be clinicians, clinician scientists or entrepreneurs.

Strome founded and led a program in tumor immunology and immunotherapy in the University of Maryland’s comprehensive cancer center. He has been a National Institutes of Health-funded researcher and is the co-founder of Gliknik Inc., a biotechnology company developing novel therapeutics to treat cancer and autoimmunity.

Highlights of his research career include discoveries that are being employed for the treatment of patients with malignant disease, as well as the development of a new class of drugs for the treatment of autoimmune/inflammatory diseases.

“We chose to focus on a little bit different strategy to treat cancer by vaccinating patients with pieces of proteins from their tumor, which are called peptides, and using those to stimulate immune responses to their tumor,” said Strome. “And we’ve also developed a new strategy to treat autoimmunity where we’re trying to replace an existing drug, which is intravenous immunoglobulin, and have developed, we think, a recombinant way to do that so folks hopefully won’t require transfused blood products to treat their autoimmune disease.”

On the clinical side, he wants to make certain that patients have appropriate access to care regardless of whom they are, and he hopes to improve the efficiency of care.

Regarding community outreach, he hopes that in addition to providing care for the community the college can become integrated into local education programs.

“So that we can influence children’s lives no matter what their background and what they can afford,” said Strome. “We need to be responsive to the communities in which we live and practice. We are those communities. We need to make sure it goes beyond just the straight practice of medicine, but also to try to teach kids that may not really think of a career in any of the medical disciplines as an opportunity that there is that opportunity.”

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