Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., Ph.D.
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 guided extensive clinical service and facilities growth, expanding annual patient visits to over 2.5 million and revenues to over $5 billion (fiscal 2021). VUMC now supports the world’s highest volume heart transplant program, the Mid-South’s leading NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center serving adults and children, and the Southeast’s largest provider-led health affiliated network with over 60 hospitals across five states. Over two decades he has spearheaded an agenda to bring personalized medicine from research concepts to bedside care, integrating advances in informatics, personalized medicine, clinical trials, and precision genomics. In 2016 the NIH awarded VUMC the Data and Research Support Center for the US Precision Medicine “All of Us” Program.
Dr. Balser guided an historic restructuring process with VU, legally and financially separating VUMC through a $1.2B public debt issuance, forming an independent, not-for-profit corporation that continues its historic academic affiliation with the university. Reporting to an eleven-member board of directors, Dr. Balser has guided acquisitions growing VUMC from two to five regional campuses, including seven hospitals with over 1700 inpatient beds and 170 outpatient facilities, while also expanding the employed medical practice to over 3000 clinicians, 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 150 different specialties. The School of Medicine ranks among the nation’s top ten NIH grant recipients, with over $700M in annual research costs supported by government, foundation, and industry sponsors.
In 2008 Dr. Balser was elected to the National Academy of Medicine; under the 1863 Congressional charter, the academies advise the nation on science, technology, and health. Since 2018 he has been a member of the organization’s governing council. He served as chair for the 2020, 50-year anniversary scientific sessions, and recently co-authored the academy’s sector review on healthcare delivery organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. He serves on the boards of VUMC, Tulane University, the Center for Medical Interoperability, the Nashville Healthcare Council, and was a director for the public company Varian Medical Systems (VAR) until its recent acquisition by Siemens.
Dr. Balser undertook internship on the Osler Medical Service, residency training in anesthesiology, and fellowship training in both cardiac anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. He joined the Hopkins faculty in 1995, practicing cardiac anesthesiology and ICU medicine while leading an NIH-funded research program aimed at the genomic underpinnings of cardiac rhythm disorders. He returned to Vanderbilt in 1998, was appointed chair of the Department of Anesthesiology in 2001 and became VUMC’s chief research officer in 2004. In 2008/09, he was named Dean of the School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor for Health affairs with executive responsibility for Vanderbilt’s medicine-related educational, research, and clinical service programs, responsibilities that continue since 2016 in his role as President and CEO.