Jeffrey R. Balser, MD, PhD
B.S. Engineering, Tulane University, 1984; M.D./Ph.D. (pharmacology), Vanderbilt University, 1990.
As the medical center’s chief executive since 2009, Dr. Balser has led remarkable growth over the past decade, expanding patient visits to nearly 3 million per year from the Mid-South and communities nationwide with annual net revenues increasing from $2 billion to $7 billion. The highest-ranked adult and children’s hospitals in the Southeast by US News, VUMC employs over 40,000 people and houses the world’s highest volume cardiac transplantation program, the Mid-South’s largest NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, and a host of destination clinical programs. As dean, Dr. Balser also oversees the VU School of Medicine, ranked #5 nationally among research intensive medical schools in US News. Over two decades he has spearheaded an agenda to bring personalized medicine from research concepts to bedside care, integrating advances in biomedical informatics, discovery science, and precision genomics. Recognized as the nation’s academic leader in health information technology, the NIH Data and Research Support Center for the US Precision Medicine “All of Us” Program is based at VUMC.
In 2016 Dr. Balser guided VUMC through an historic restructuring process, separating the medical center legally and financially from Vanderbilt University through a $1.2B public debt issuance and forming an independent, not-for-profit corporation that continues its historic academic affiliation with the university. He has led acquisitions growing VUMC from two to five regional campuses with seven hospitals and over 1700 licensed inpatient beds, while expanding the employed medical practice to 3000 clinicians providing care in over 200 outpatient facilities, the largest in the Mid-South. VUMC houses one of the nation’s distinguished medical education programs with over 1100 residents and fellows training in over 200 specialties. The School of Medicine ranks among the nation’s top NIH grant recipients, with over $900M in annual research awards supported by government, foundation, and industry sponsors. Among the nation’s most accomplished infectious disease research centers, VUMC has led key discoveries delivering vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, including Remdesivir (Gilead) and Evusheld (AstraZeneca). Through its wholly owned biotech subsidiary Nashville Biosciences, and in partnership with Illumina, VUMC is leveraging its massive-scale BioVU resource to build the Alliance for Genomic Discovery, the nation’s largest whole-genome DNA sequenced repository for both academic and commercial use.
Dr. Balser was a director for Varian Medical Systems (VAR) until its acquisition by Siemens and presently serves as a director of CVS Health (CVS). He also serves on the boards of VUMC, Tulane University, and the Nashville Healthcare Council. Elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2008, since 2018 he has been a governing council member, chairing the 2020 and 2022 (50th Anniversary) annual meetings and co-leading a sector review on healthcare organization performance during COVID-19.
A graduate of Tulane (B.S Engineering), and a 1990 graduate of Vanderbilt (MD/PhD pharmacology), he undertook internship on the Osler Medical Service, residency in anesthesiology, and fellowship in cardiac anesthesiology and critical care at Johns Hopkins. Joining the Hopkins faculty in 1995, he practiced cardiac anesthesiology and surgical ICU medicine while leading an NIH-funded research program aimed at the genomic underpinnings of cardiac rhythm disorders. He returned to Vanderbilt in 1998, became chair of anesthesiology in 2001 and VUMC’s chief research officer in 2004. In 2008/09, he was named dean of medicine and vice chancellor for health affairs with executive responsibility for Vanderbilt’s medicine-related programs, responsibilities that continue since 2016 as President and CEO of VUMC and dean of the VU School of Medicine.