College of Medicine dean excited revolutionize field, connect with community patients

Dr. King Li was named the inaugural dean for the College of Medicine Tuesday and already is looking ahead to hiring new faculty, submitting accreditation reports and finishing curriculum plans.


Dr. King Li; director of the Translational Science Institute (TSI), Chair Radiology department. Works with scientists and bringing commercialization into key labs.Genomics lab, Nutrition building rm 319.

By Megan Jones, Staff Writer

Dr. King Li will need a specific vision for the College of Medicine as the inaugural dean for a new college. Luckily, Carle Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matthew Gibb said Li comes with that vision and more.

Li will begin on Oct. 1, and will start by focusing on hiring faculty, submitting applications to gain accreditation and finishing plans for the school’s curriculum.

Li said he jumped at the opportunity to apply for the position because this was the most exciting opportunity in hewalth care education, delivery and research due to the potential for building something new with potential local, national, and international impact.

“This is at a world class university with top-notch programs, not just in engineering and technology but all the way through and through,” he said. “Because in order to impact healthcare, engineering and technology is important, but you also need the other aspects of it.”

Li will earn $650,000 a year — $1,000 more than incoming Chancellor Robert Jones. Fifty-one percent of his salary will be paid for by the University and 49 percent will be paid for by Carle. None of his salary will be paid for through state funding. Li’s appointment for the Urbana campus is pending approval by the Board of Trustees at its Sept. 8 meeting.

The College of Medicine is the first college created by the University in 60 years, and it will combine bioengineering and medicine in hopes of transforming the way the medical field is taught. The college expects to accept its first class of students in 2018 with 32 students.

Li will report to Gibb as chief academic officer for Carle and to Interim Provost Edward Feser as dean of the College of Medicine. The college will use already built spaces to house classes and faculty offices. Li will have offices both at Carle and on the UI campus, Gibb said.

The international search garnered around 60 candidates and a search committee, comprised of both Carle and University stakeholders, helped narrow the search to 11 semifinalists. Four finalists were invited for on-campus interviews. Li was invited back for a second visit around two weeks ago he was notified he had been selected for the job, Gibb said.

Next steps for college

When Li takes his position in October they will discuss hiring faculty, Gibb said. They are looking to hire three to five initial new faculty members as a joint-hire serving as both physicians for Carle and educators for the University.

A core curriculum development committee has already been building curriculum infusing engineering and technology aspects into healthcare teaching. Li said the curriculum must leverage informatics, analytics and implementation science.

“This is not just a College of Medicine but a campus-wide effort because to be successful we will need contributions from faculty and students from most, if not all, the colleges and schools,” he said, adding that contributions from the department of education to the school of information sciences, liberal arts and sciences, applied sciences and even veterinary medicine will be important.

Once the curriculum is complete, Gibb said they will apply in early December for accreditation from the Liaison Committee of Medical Education. Accreditation is expected to take one year after which the school can begin recruiting students.
Li plans to initially build relationships on campus with faculty members and to reach out to physicians and providers at Carle to help them understand how the college will be important for their day-to-day work and improve the way they deliver care. He said he will then reach out to the Champaign-Urbana community informing of the college’s positive impact, not just to their health but to the economic development of the area.

Instead of typical lecture-based curriculum, students will learn through a team and problem-based curriculum revolving around actual clinical cases, Gibb said.

Rather than learning anatomy and biochemistry in isolated courses, the cases interweave multiple themes into clinical cases.

The concepts mapping back to basic sciences are all prominent in the curriculum of around 60 cases. Students will work as a team with a facilitator and faculty mentors.

Students will also work on projects and have chances for translational research. Gibb said this is a way of moving in parallel rather than in a series of core content, and it will teach students to problem-solve rather than to just memorize facts.

“It is a tall order, but it is certainly our vision and goal for revolutionary curriculum,” Li said.

Li’s background

Li is currently a senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at Wake Forest School of Medicine as well as deputy director of the university’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

He has over 16 patents, with another six pending and is a Wells Fargo Faculty Scholar at Wake Forest. He has also held clinical, educational and inventor roles at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and Stanford University.
He earned a medical degree from the University of Toronto and an MBA from San Jose State University.

Gibb said Li’s research is in an exciting area of radiology, allowing techniques of pharmaceuticals to cross over into the brain to tackle cancers and other brain diseases.

“He is also a builder who has built very successful programs at Houston Methodist Hospital and at Wake Forest,” Gibb said.

“He is very good at bringing people together. He is incredibly charismatic and enthusiastic and he has the training and the history to bring all that forward here.”

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