UConn President Names New Vice President for Health Affairs and Medical School Dean

Dr. Frank M. Torti will join the UConn Health Center on May 1.

Dr. Frank M. Torti will join the UConn Health Center on May 1

Dr. Frank M. Torti
Dr. Frank M. Torti. Click photo for larger image.

University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst today announced that Dr. Frank M. Torti, vice president for strategic programs, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, will become the new vice president for health affairs at the UConn Health Center and the eighth dean of the UConn School of Medicine. Torti will hold a Board of Trustees professorship in the Department of Medicine. He will join the Health Center May 1.

“Frank Torti is a brilliant researcher, physician, and teacher — a transformational leader who will make UConn one of the premier institutions of health care in the world,” President Herbst said.

“It is a new day at UConn. As I have said since my appointment, we have the highest ambitions for excellence, so that we may take our place among the international pantheon of great institutions. Dr. Torti is a superb leader, and I want every citizen of this state to know that their Health Center simply could not be in better hands. With Dr. Torti’s guidance, we will find new cures for disease, map the future political economy of health care, and most of all, ensure that every single patient we see receives the best possible care known to contemporary science.

“Dr. Torti brings to UConn capabilities beyond his personal academic excellence and long history of academic leadership,” President Herbst continued. “As the former principal deputy commissioner, chief scientist, and then acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Torti understands the landscape of drug and device development and the promise of personalized medicine like few others in this country. He is the right person at the right time for UConn and the state of Connecticut.”

Torti has been responsible for the scientific leadership of Wake Forest’s Comprehensive Cancer Center since 1993 and has more recently provided leadership to the Cancer Center’s clinical programs. He is a well-known physician and clinical investigator who has designed and executed clinical trials in urologic cancer that have been used throughout the world. He has been routinely selected by his peers in polls and in national magazines of “America’s top doctors” and “top cancer doctors.”

He is the founding and past president of the Cancer Biology Training Consortium, a national society of cancer biology chairs and program directors that now involves 70 U.S. academic medical centers. He currently serves on the external advisory board of five comprehensive cancer centers, as well as the state of North Carolina’s Drug Discovery Center of Innovation’s Scientific Advisory Board. He was recently elected to the board of directors of the Association of American Cancer Institutes and of the National Coalition for Cancer Research. He served on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and was recently appointed to the National Cancer Institute’s Clinical Trial Advisory Committee and the Board of Scientific Advisors.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the UConn Health Center and the School of Medicine,” said Torti. “Governor Malloy’s Bioscience Connecticut program and the state’s partnership with Jackson Laboratory are nothing less than transformational. Working together, Connecticut and the University will change the bioscience landscape and grow the region’s economy. I look forward to working with everyone to ensure that this outstanding academic medical center reaches its full potential.”

Torti’s selection follows a comprehensive national search that began in July, after Dr. Cato Laurencin stepped down as vice president of health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. Mun Choi, dean of the School of Engineering, and Dr. Gerard Burrow, immediate past chairman of the UConn Health Center Board of Directors, served as co-chairs of the 22-person search committee.

“The co-chairs and the committee did a fabulous job,” said President Herbst. “I couldn’t have asked for a more qualified and impressive group of candidates.”

Since July, former UConn President Philip E. Austin and Dr. Bruce T. Liang, director of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, have been serving as the Health Center’s interim vice president for health affairs and interim dean of the School of Medicine, respectively.

Torti received his BA and MA degrees from Johns Hopkins University, his MD from Harvard Medical School (cum laude), and his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, where he trained in cancer epidemiology and nutrition. He was an intern and resident at the Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, a Harvard teaching hospital, and a fellow in medical oncology at Stanford University. While on the Stanford faculty, he served as executive officer of the Northern California Oncology Group and associate director of the Northern California Cancer Program, and was instrumental in the development and oversight of the data management functions and overall administration of that NCI-designated clinical cooperative group and its regional network in northern California.

Torti developed and is principal investigator on a training program in cancer biology that is funded by an NIH T32 grant. He has been continually funded by an NIH RO1 grant for his basic science research since his lab was established in 1988. He holds a MERIT award from the NIH, an honor bestowed on only 3 percent of all NIH grantees.

Torti’s wife, Suzy V. Torti, has been appointed to the position of professor in the UConn School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular, Microbial, and Structural Biology, and the Center for Molecular Medicine. An accomplished cancer researcher, she is currently a tenured professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

A native of Northvale, N.J., Torti will be paid an annual base salary of $780,000 and is eligible to receive a $150,000 performance incentive at the end of his first year, compensation similar to that of his predecessor.

Follow the UConn Health Center on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.