What's Next for Internal Medicine?

Q&A With Jochen Reiser, MD, PhD, Chairperson of the Department of Internal Medicine

Jochen Reiser, MD, PhD

Last September, Jochen Reiser, MD, PhD, joined Rush as chairperson of the Department of Internal Medicine, the Medical Center’s largest clinical department. Reiser replaced Stuart Levin, MD, who retired after 21 years as chairperson of the department.

A nephrologist, Reiser came to Rush from the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. In addition to holding a named chair in vascular biology and kidney disease at Miami, he was vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine and chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension.

Reiser, who has led international research on the molecular mechanisms of kidney disease, spoke this spring about his plans to strengthen the department’s relationships within and outside the Medical Center to support the growth of its clinical and research programs.

Q: Why did you decide to come to Rush? 

Reiser: Rush has a big name. It has a tradition of excellence in clinical care and some excellent research discoveries — for example, the discovery of the base of sickle cell disease. When I learned of the opening, I thought it would be a positive challenge to infuse more basic and clinical research into what primarily has been a clinically oriented department.

Q: What’s your vision for the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush? 

Reiser: We are not starting from scratch here. This is a fine department. It is full of a lot of talent. Now is the time to build up the clinical enterprise, holding ourselves accountable and collaborate with our colleagues in other departments.

We also want to build molecular and translational research on a larger scale. We already have formed a program in molecular medicine out of existing grants and newly invested funds. It will give us more definition in the department and can eventually be largely sustained by grants, programs and industry contracts.

We want to go out into the community and be a partner. For example, hematology/oncology has formed a close collaboration with DuPage Medical Group. We want to build an even stronger relationship with the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, which is a fine institution that cares for many of the most in need. 

We also want to improve education. How can we improve our teaching? We’re going to put a question mark behind a lot of things and evaluate them. 

Q: What other initiatives have you implemented? 

Reiser: We have set up a committee on research, which is a group of distinguished faculty with broad research expertise that review junior faculty projects. We want to build the next level of leadership, where the department is infused with junior clinicians and basic scientists. 

We have also started an attending-directed service in hospitalist medicine. We have a group of faculty in the hospital that is taking care of all kinds of acute conditions without resident support, which improves flow-through of patients in the hospital and assures compliance with residents’ work duties. 

Q: Where do you want to see the department being in five years? 

Reiser: I think this department has the chance to transform into a stellar clinical and research delivery system where the quality of the physicians, nurses and staff make all the difference in delivering a unique and highly successful patient experience.


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