February 17, 2012

Dr. David Whellan Named James C. Wilson Associate Professor of Medicine

Philadelphia, PA — I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. David Whellan, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Jefferson Coordinating Center for Clinical Research (JCCCR), as the James C. Wilson Associate Professor of Medicine.

This appointment is in recognition of Dr. Whellan's scholarly and scientific accomplishments in building a world-class clinical research organization within the Department, and translating discovery into advancements in patient care.

The Jefferson Coordinating Center for Clinical Research center provides clinical trial services to Jefferson faculty, develops and implements investigator initiated studies, assists in the dissemination of research results through publications and presentations, and trains JMC students and housestaff in clinical research methods. In addition to these internal efforts, the coordinating center supports and manages the East Coast Research Network, a regional network of over 60 physicians that participates in clinical trials, many of which are initiated by Jefferson faculty. JCCCR has established a standard approach to performing clinical research and is the first federal recharge center at Jefferson focused on clinical research.

Dr. Whellan is a recognized leader in heart failure research and clinical trial design. As one of the principal investigators of the HF-ACTION study, a $37 million NHLBI-funded clinical trial investigating the effect of exercise training in patients with heart failure, Dr. Whellan designed, implemented and shared responsibility for the daily operation of the protocol. He was the national principal investigator for the PARTNERS-HF study, which investigated the capacity of diagnostics from implantable devices to predict clinical heart failure events. In addition, he has served on the executive committee of the MVP Trial and on the steering committee for the ASCEND and TRACER-ACS trials. During his fellowship and earlier faculty appointment, Dr. Whellan worked at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the largest academic research organization in the world. His work at the DCRI and JMC has focused on treatments and outcomes for heart failure patients and identification of better care strategies for these patients.

Dr. Whellan is leading the Jefferson Regional Clinical Center in the NHLBI's Heart Failure Network as the principal investigator, along with clinical leaders within the Department – Drs. Paul Mather, Sharon Rubin, and Raphael Bonita. Jefferson was selected in November 2011 as one of nine centers from across the nation. The HF Network will provide support to develop, coordinate, and conduct multiple collaborative randomized clinical trials (RCTs) to improve HF outcomes. The focus is on small to intermediate-sized concurrent RCTs that can be completed in two to five years. Other participating centers include Case Western University/Cleveland Clinic, Duke University, Emory University, Harvard University, Mayo Clinic, University of Pennsylvania/Johns Hopkins University, University of Vermont/Tufts University and Washington University in St. Louis.

Highlighting the importance of clinical research in academic health care, Jefferson Medical College promoted Dr. David J. Whellan, MD MHS to the newly created position of Assistant Dean for Clinical Research. Dr. Whellan will be responsible for advancing Jefferson's research mission by promoting clinical research, supporting faculty's research efforts in their respective clinical fields and integrating clinical research into the overall strategy for JMC.

Dr. Whellan earned his a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from University of Pennsylvania, his doctor of medicine degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and his master of health science in clinical research from Duke University. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, as well as a member of the Heart Failure Society of America. He has published over 100 manuscripts and book chapters. Dr. Whellan serves as an associate editor of the American Heart Journal.

The Professorship which Dr. Whellan will hold is named in honor of Dr. James Cornelius Wilson, eighth Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Jefferson. The following text is derived and excerpted from Frederick Wagner’s history of Thomas Jefferson University, published in 1989 (Thomas Jefferson University, tradition and heritage).

Born in 1847, Wilson was the son of Dr. Ellwood Wilson (Jefferson, 1845) who was a teacher, an assistant to Charles D.Meigs, and a member of the Jefferson Board of Trustees. Young Wilson graduated from Princeton cum laude and received his M.D. from Jefferson in 1869. He served as Resident Physician to the Wills Eye and Pennsylvania Hospitals before going abroad for a year to study in Dresden and Vienna. On his return he was made Chief of the Jefferson Hospital Medical Clinic and served as Physician to many of the other Philadelphia hospitals. His teaching at Jefferson included the course in Physical Diagnosis and lectures on renal and pulmonary disease. He served as Chief Clinical Assistant to Professor Jacob Mendes DaCosta, whom he succeeded in 1891. A true clinician, Wilson believed in the vigilant search for the cause of illness, attention to the comfort of the patient, the use of a minimum of drugs, and permission for nature to take its course. He contributed to medical journals and was the editor of An American Textbook of Applied Therapies.

Dr. Wilson served as Chairman of the Department from 1891 until 1911. It was in 1904 that the student body was delineated into two segments: the first, the Undergraduates, were candidates for the M.D. degree, and the second were special students or those graduates of medical colleges, approved by the faculty, who desired to receive instruction in one or more branches. The latter were granted a Certificate by the respective Professors whose Lectures or Clinics they attended after passing an examination in the subject. This was the origin of Specialty Certification, at the time subject to local approval, but which would be replaced over the years by the establishment of Medical Specialty Boards.

Wilson's beneficent influence on Jefferson continued beyond his death with the establishment of the James C. Wilson Professorship of Medicine in 1973. This evolved through the efforts of Drs. Creighton H. Turner and Robert l. Wise (thirteenth Chairman, 1959-1975).  Dr. Turner (Jefferson, 1909), a protégé of Dr. Wilson and prominent in teaching of physical diagnosis was the family physician tor Wilson’s daughters, Beatrice and Helen. He conveyed to Dr. Wise, the Magee Professor of Medicine at the time, his awareness of the love of Wilson's daughters for their father and the expression of their father's interest in the welfare of Jefferson before his death. Dr. Turner introduced the daughters to Dr. Wise, who continued their medical care.  Beatrice Wilson bequeathed $1.5 million in her will for establishment of the James C. Wilson Professorship of Medicine which continues in the Department today.  This Professorship was previously held by Dr. Thomas Force and Dr. Albert Brest.

About Thomas Jefferson University
Thomas Jefferson University, (TJU), the largest freestanding academic medical center in Philadelphia, is nationally renowned for medical and health sciences education and innovative research. Founded in 1824, TJU includes Jefferson Medical College (JMC), one of the largest private medical schools in the country and ranked among the nation's best medical schools by U.S. News & World Report, and the Jefferson Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions, Population Health and the College of Graduate Studies. Jefferson University Physicians is TJU's multi-specialty physician practice consisting of the full-time faculty of JMC. Thomas Jefferson University partners with its clinical affiliate, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals.

For more information, contact: Jennifer McGowan Smith, Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals, 211 South 9th Street, Suite 310, Philadelphia, PA 19107, (215) 955-5507, (215) 955-5008 fax, or email jennifer.mcgowansmith@jefferson.edu.