Department of Physiology and Pharmacology leadership transition

Dr. Dawson stepping down in July; Dr. Habecker to become interim chair

April 16, 2014

Dean Mark Richardson announced in April that David Dawson, Ph.D., will step down as chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology effective July 1, 2014. Beth Habecker, Ph.D., has accepted the position of interim chair of the department and will formally assume the role on July 1.

"I want to thank Dave for his years of service to OHSU. In due course, we will host a reception during which, together, we will celebrate and pay tribute to Dave's years of leadership and service to the School of Medicine," said Dean Richardson.

DaveSings8-26-10-webDr. Dawson was recruited to the School of Medicine in 1999 from the University of Michigan, where he served as Associate Chair. He had also served as Director of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salsbury Cove, Maine. In addition to maintaining a successful research program focused on the structure and function of the CFTR chloride channel, Dr. Dawson guided the department through many changes over the past 15 years, including a succession of five deans, and also provided influential service to the university community through a variety of committee and planning roles. As chair he initiated the Program in Chemical Biology, now led by Tom Scanlan, which has brought expertise in chemical synthesis and drug development to OHSU. Dr. Dawson has played a substantial role in the school's education mission, one recognized by both students and colleagues. The recipient of several OHSU awards for excellence in teaching, most recently he has been involved in helping to shape aspects of the basic science blocks of our new M.D. curriculum. Notably, he was also a founding member of the all-OHSU Halloween Blues Band.

Beth Habecker, Ph.D.A member of the faculty since 1997, Dr. Habecker, professor of physiology and pharmacology, leads an active research program while maintaining a significant role in both education and community service, at OHSU and beyond. In addition to teaching in both the M.D. and graduate studies program, Dr. Habecker served on steering committees leading the M.D. curriculum transformation and the interprofessional education initiatives. She is a graduate of the School of Medicine's Paths to Leadership faculty development program.

After receiving a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., Dr. Habecker completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Story Landis, Ph.D., now the director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She credits Dr. Landis with imbuing in her a "servant leadership” philosophy in which service to and collaboration with faculty are guiding principles. Dr. Habecker's immediate goals as interim chair are to work closely with the faculty to position the department to be successful in a national search for a new chair and also to help ensure that school's new investments in basic science help support faculty success.

After the completion of an internal review of the department, Dean Richardson will appoint and charge a committee to conduct a national search for a permanent chair, likely to commence in autumn 2014.

"I am confident that Beth will provide strong and stable leadership to the department during this interim period," said Dean Richardson. "Please join me in welcoming her to this leadership role in the OHSU School of Medicine."