Dr. Lee becomes new University of Michigan chairman

April 1, 2012

Paul P. Lee, MD, JD, has come full circle. After earning his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Michigan in the 1980s, Dr. Lee has returned as chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and holder of the F. Bruce Fralick scholarship.

Dr. Lee, 51, joins UM after spending 15 years at Duke University, where he was vice chairman of the Ophthalmology Department and the James Pitzer Gills III, MD, and Joy Gills Professor of Ophthalmology. He also held appointments as director of Applied Health Systems Research at Duke University Health System and as senior adviser to the chancellor, Victor Dzau, MD.

"It's a sense of honor and privilege to be able to build on what Dr. Lichter and the department and university have accomplished here," Dr. Lee said. "It's also a wonderful sense of excitement because there are tremendous opportunities here at Michigan and in the environment in which we all live to do things that help our patients and advance science and provide care for patients that will be of the best quality and effective."

The son of a glaucoma specialist, Dr. Lee also is a glaucoma specialist who counts glaucoma specialist Dr. Lichter among his mentors.

At an early age, though, Dr. Lee knew he wanted to focus on more than patients' vision. As a Congressional intern in Washington, DC, in 1980, Dr. Lee saw that a law degree would allow him to influence the future of health care. With the support of his medical school advisers, Dr. Lee completed law school and received his Juris Doctorate from Columbia University the same month he received his medical degree from the University of Michigan.

He completed an internship in internal medicine at Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Hospital and his ophthalmology residency at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. He also completed a glaucoma fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston.

Dr. Lee used his dual degrees to pursue research in health-care policy. He has written extensively about assessing and improving quality of care, quality of life and outcomes research, and health systems utilization and policy.

He also worked with RAND, a nonprofit research organization in Santa Monica, CA, and was an associate professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine before joining Duke in 1997. At Duke he chaired the Finance Committee of the physician practice and was a member of the Executive Management Committee of the Duke University Health System.

David L. Epstein, MD, chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Duke, said he is pleased that Dr. Lee has the opportunity to return to UM.

"At Duke, Paul Lee not only excelled in his own glaucoma science and clinical acumen, but he was my vice chairman of ophthalmology and I relied on him greatly. He was remarkably effective, an advocate for all faculty, and a most knowledgeable adviser to me," Dr. Epstein said.

Dr. Lee's advisory role gave him input into health systems planning at the Duke University Health System.

"I believe experience in these additional roles will add significant value to his leadership position at Michigan," Dr. Epstein said.

Stephen J. Ryan, MD, president of the Doheny Eye Institute at USC and the Grace and Emery Beardsley Professor of Ophthalmology, met Dr. Lee when he was a Wilmer resident and "superior in every way." Dr. Lee began his faculty career at Doheny, first as an assistant then associate professor.

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