Internationally Recognized Surgeon, Scientist, Teacher Will Address OHSU 2003 Graduating Students

05/06/03    Portland, Ore.

Haile T. Debas, M.D, dean and vice chancellor of the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, will give the 2003 Commencement speech for OHSU. The ceremony is planned for Wednesday, June 4, 8 p.m., in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland.

Haile Debas, M.D., is an internationally renowned surgeon, scientist and teacher. As dean and former chancellor, he has played a key role in most of the major initiatives of the UCSF campus, including the development of UCSF Stanford Health Care, a new major site for biomedical research at Mission Bay, and the development of the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center. During his tenure, UCSF became one of the country's leading centers for transplant surgery, the training of young surgeons, and basic and clinical research in surgery. Debas is widely recognized as a leading expert on the gastrointestinal system and has made several contributions to understanding the physiology, biochemistry and pathophysiology of gastrointestinal peptide hormones. He currently holds the Maurice Galante Distinguished Professorship of Surgery at UCSF.

Debas served as chairman of the UCSF Department of Surgery from 1987 until his appointment as dean in 1993. Debas' other major initiatives include the development of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute, a redesign of the UCSF Human Genetics Program, and important changes in the medical school curriculum.

Before going to UCSF Debas was a professor of surgery at the University of Washington from 1985 to 1987. He recently completed a one-year term as president of the American Surgical Association, the oldest and most prestigious association of surgeons in this country. He is a past president of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, the International Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Association and the Association for Academic Minority Physicians. He is a former director of the American Board of Surgery and a member of the American Gastroenterological Association. In 1990 he was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and is one of the few surgeons to be elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 1999 Debas took a six-month leave of absence to pursue a project of personal significance: researching plans to build the first medical school in his native Eritrea, formerly a part of Ethiopia. He recently announced his intention to step down as dean of the UCSF School of Medicine in 2003.

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