INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana University School of Medicine has named an innovative leader as the new chair of the Department of Family Medicine.
Kolawole Okuyemi, MD, MPH, will assume the position of department chair effective February 1, 2024 and will have oversight and responsibility for the department’s clinical, educational and research programs. He will also serve as the school’s Associate Dean for Health Equity Research.
Okuyemi is a highly respected physician-scientist in the field of family medicine, with more than 20 years of experience as an effective executive leader and researcher. He is currently the chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine at the University of Utah. He also serves as the Executive Director for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
“Dr. Okuyemi is a collaborative and transformational leader with a proven track record of building innovative and sustainable interdisciplinary clinical, educational, and research programs,” said Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, dean of IU School of Medicine and Executive Vice President of University Clinical Affairs for IU. “His vision aligns with the Department of Family Medicine and with the School of Medicine’s strategic focus on advancing community health and health equity through interdisciplinary research and patient centered care.”
Okuyemi is the founding director of Utah Health Equity Leadership and Mentorship (U-HELM), which provides mentoring and leadership development opportunities to early-career faculty and fellows in any health sciences field at the university who are underrepresented in medicine or involved in health equity research and practice. As department chair, he has grown research expenditure from $8 million annually in 2017 to $20 million in 2022, including NIH and other funding sources. He also increased the department’s Blue Ridge NIH funding ranking from No. 15 in 2017 to No. 4 in 2022 among family medicine departments in the U.S.
During his time on faculty at the University of Minnesota Medical School, he established the Program in Health Disparities Research (PHDR) and grew the program to more than 50 faculty members across multiple health sciences colleges and departments before relocating to Utah in 2017. From an investment of $2 million by the dean, the program generated a return of more than $60 million within its first 10 years of existence, primarily from three NIH grants of $42 million and philanthropic giving.
Also, while at Minnesota, Okuyemi received a $22 million NIH Common Fund grant to establish the National Research Mentoring Network for a Diverse Biomedical Workforce—a nationwide consortium of biomedical professionals and institutions collaborating to provide enhanced networking and mentorship experiences in support of the career development of trainees from diverse backgrounds in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social science research careers.
“Throughout the last 20 years of my career, I have been deeply committed to improving the health outcomes of underserved populations and building systems and structures to support innovation and mentorship,” said Okuyemi. “I am excited for this new opportunity with IU School of Medicine and eager to begin my work with the Department of Family Medicine.”
About IU School of Medicine
IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.