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SQI: Simpson Querry Institute

Quaggin named new chair of Medicine

After 15 years of distinguished leadership in the Department of Medicine, Douglas E. Vaughan, the Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine, has announced his intention to step down as chair of Medicine, effective September 1.

Susan Quaggin

Vaughan will be succeeded by SQI member Susan Quaggin, the Charles Horace Mayo Professor of medicine, chief of Nephrology and Hypertension in the Department of Medicine, and director of the Feinberg Cardiovascular and Renal Research Institute. In this new role, she will also serve as Physician-in-Chief at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) and Northwestern Medical Group. She will be the first woman to serve as Northwestern University’s chair of Medicine.

“I am incredibly grateful for Doug’s stellar vision and wonderful leadership during his tenure as chair of Medicine. His tremendous talent and passion have helped us to recruit a generation of incredible physician-scientists to lead our divisions. He has grown our clinical and translational research enterprise to great heights and fostered a welcoming and diverse environment of excellence for our outstanding trainees,” said Eric G. Neilson, vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean. “Our health system and medical school are stronger than ever because of Doug’s steadfast intellectual leadership, and our status as a world-class academic medical center owes much to him.”

“We are also delighted that Sue, one of the world’s most dynamic and creative investigators in the fields of nephrology and vascular biology, will continue this tradition of excellence as chair of Medicine and the Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine. She represents the future of this great institution, and her leadership will continue to attract unparalleled talent and rapidly grow our research and clinical enterprises,” Neilson said.

In transition, Vaughan will become the Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine Emeritus and director of the Potocsnak Longevity Institute, which launched in 2022. He will continue his research on coronary artery disease as well as the biological processes that drive aging, including the plasminogen activator system. He will also serve in the role of special counselor to the president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. To date, he has authored more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific publications and is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and a member of the Association of American Physicians.

Vaughan’s tenure as chair of Medicine has been marked by a period of unprecedented growth, with NIH funding rising to $118 million in 2022 from $53.8 million in 2008. He has grown and led the largest department at Northwestern, now with approximately 531 full-time faculty, 550 staff, and 332 health system clinicians or contributed services faculty.

“During my time as chair, I have had the privilege of working with scores of dedicated and talented clinicians, scientists, educators, students, and trainees at all levels. What we have accomplished together has been truly remarkable, and I am deeply grateful for every day spent in this role. These last 15 years have passed by quickly, and I am excited to reinvent myself and lean into my role as director of the Potocsnak Longevity Institute. As I have aged, I have become progressively more interested in and passionate about expanding the healthspan of our species and building an institute that earns global recognition for scientific leadership and innovation in the science of aging,” Vaughan said.

“And I am honored to turn the chair over to Sue Quaggin. This is a momentous event in the history of the department. Sue is a powerhouse in academic medicine par excellence and is an ideal choice to lead us into the next era of medicine. She will take the department to the next level and she has my complete confidence as I turn my attention to building the Longevity Institute and contributing to the success of Northwestern Medicine. There is no better choice.” 

Quaggin has conducted extensive research related to kidney health, and her work in molecular biology around transcription factor action within developing kidneys has helped advance transgenic mouse models used to study kidney disease. Her discoveries related to vascular endothelial growth factor led to connections between growth factor inhibition and thrombotic microangiopathy and kidney failure. Her work has inspired new protocols for renal assessments and led to new insight into pre-eclampsia, and improved treatments for patients who are at high risk for cardiovascular mortality because of kidney disease.

Quaggin is immediate past president of the American Society of Nephrology, an elected councilor of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and is an AHA Distinguished Scientist. She earned her medical degree from the University of Toronto and completed a fellowship in nephrology at the University of Toronto as well as two post-doctoral fellowships, one in molecular biology of kidney development in the Igarashi Lab at Yale University and one in mouse genetics with the Rossant Lab at the University of Toronto.

Quaggin has published more than 180 peer-reviewed articles and is the deputy editor of Journal of Clinical Investigation, the coeditor of Seldin and Geibisch: The Kidney and coeditor of the pathophysiology section of Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension Renal Physiology. She was previously recognized by the American Heart Association in 2012 with the Donald Seldin Lectureship Award and was recently elected a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Investigators, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be the next chair of the Department of Medicine at Feinberg and Northwestern Memorial Hospital,” Quaggin said. “Northwestern’s commitment to transform human health equitably and to our Patients First mission is reflected tirelessly every day, in every division of the Department of Medicine. Like so many of our faculty, trainees, students, and scientists, it is our patients whose stories inspire me every day and give me my purpose in life. I am incredibly excited to build upon the legacy of excellence at Northwestern and in the department that has evolved under Dr. Vaughan’s exemplary leadership, and to shape a new era of medicine for our institution.”

Note: This article was first published by the Feinberg News Center.