Dzau’s vision, and accomplishments

Feb. 21, 2014 @ 09:16 AM

Shortly after he arrived at Duke University in 2004 as chancellor for health affairs and president and CEO of Duke University Health System, Dr. Victor Dzau looked ahead in an article in DukeMed magazine.
“‘We are going to face difficult times ahead,’ he predicts,” the magazine reported, “citing a host of challenges facing health care -- health inequalities, a growing number of uninsured, rising costs and dwindling reimbursements, increased competition between providers, cutbacks in research funding, unacceptable levels of medical errors and safety problems.
“We can’t rest on our laurels” Dzau told the magazine’s Minnie Glymph. “We have to be efficient and be prepared for the future. We have to do the right thing early and well to benefit our patients.”
Ten years down the road, Dzau has proven to be an insightful predictor. The university health system has weathered those challenges, and more, in the decade he has led it.
And through that challenging course, by all accounts, he delivered on what he said was needed. The health system has hardly rested on its laurels, undertaking a major building program and launching new institutes and initiatives. It has been an early adopter of such efforts at more efficient care as unified electronic records systems.
It has consistently ranked among the top medical centers in the country. Dzau has extended its global reach and presence – initiating the Duke Global Health Institute, for example, and creating a new campus a half a world away, the Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School.
“You can see by all that he has accomplished that he is a real visionary in many ways,” Michael Merson, who Dzau recruited to head the new global health institute, told The Herald-Sun’s April Dudash.
All the while, Dzau has maintained an active research lab in his field of cardiovascular disease. He is a self-described multi-tasker.
Dzau has been a powerful force in the greater Durham community as well as on the Duke campus and in its sprawling medical complex.  He has helped to lead summits examining the health of Durham County citizens and has explored ways to eliminate the inequities that leave the impoverished suffering from inadequate care. In recent months, he has teamed with David Dodson at MDC, an action-oriented think tank, to launch “Made in Durham” to connect socio-economically disadvantaged youth with education and employment opportunities.
“His belief in better outcomes for all human beings, just has inspired us and created a very powerful group of people who are committed to these better outcomes,” Dodson said Wednesday after Dzau’s impending departure was announced.
Dzau will take on another formidable challenge, and the opportunity to help shape national policy, as president of the Institute of Medicine.
Fortunately for Durham, he and his wife, Ruth Dzau -- who also has plunged into Durham’s civic life -- will continue to life here, and Dodson said he will continue to work with Made in Durham.
We are fortunate to have his continued commitment here – and we are especially fortunate for the legacy he leaves at Duke and its health system.