Announcing David J. Skorton, the next president of Cornell University
About David Skorton - Career Highlights
- A certified cardiologist with joint professorships in internal medicine, electrical and computer engineering, and biomedical engineering; a jazz musician with a lifelong interest in the arts.
- As president of the University of Iowa, Skorton oversaw operation of an institution with 11 colleges, nearly 30,000 students, 1,700 faculty, 14,000 staff and total annual expenditures of $2.2 billion. Established in 1847, the University of Iowa is a major national research university with widely respected programs in genetics, biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences and pharmacology education; it is home of the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Big Ten Hawkeye athletic program.
- Skorton is co-founder and co-director of the Adolescent and Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinic at the University of Iowa, and he has continued his clinic practice even after being named president of the university in 2003. His research on congenital heart disease, cardiac imaging and computer image processing has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Heart Association and by private industry. He has published more than 200 articles, reviews, book chapters and two major texts in the areas of cardiac imaging and image processing.
- A national leader in research ethics, Skorton is charter president of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs Inc., the first entity organized specifically to accredit human research protection programs. He also has been a member of the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, the American Society of Echocardiography, the Association of American Universities and the Council on Competitiveness.
- In 1992, Skorton was appointed as vice president for research by then-president of the University of Iowa, Hunter R. Rawlings, later to become Cornell’s 10th president and current interim president. From March 2002 until he assumed the presidency Skorton served as vice president for research and external relations. As vice president, he oversaw more than 30 administrative units and headed a research and development program that ranks among the nation's top 20 public research universities in obtaining external funding. Yearly totals for support from outside of state government more than doubled during his tenure, from $150 million to $341 million.
- Skorton’s presidency has focused on the University of Iowa’s commitments to economic development, the arts and humanities, the health sciences (including direct oversight of the Academic Health Sciences Center), intercollegiate athletics and public service.
- Skorton declared 2004-05 the Year of the Arts and Humanities, during which numerous programs on campus and throughout the state celebrated the importance of the arts and humanities as public culture. He serves on the Association of American Universities/American Council of Learned Societies Humanities Steering Committee.
- He declared 2005-06 the Year of Public Engagement, encouraging the university community to intensify its efforts and sharpen its focus on engagement with the public and public issues at the local, state, national and international levels.
- Skorton’s economic development activities include past and current memberships in the Iowa City Area Development Group, committees of the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce, the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, the Iowa Business Council, the Iowa Department of Economic Development Board, the Governor's Life Sciences Advisory Committee and the Iowa Research Council, of which he was president from 1999 to 2001.
- Skorton was born Nov. 22, 1949, in Milwaukee, Wis. His father, Sam, left what is now Belarus after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Sam Skorton, a shoe store owner, moved his family to Los Angeles when David Skorton was 9.
- He began playing alto saxophone at age 9 and contemplated a career as a musician, but his father – who never finished high school himself – wanted his son to get a college education. Skorton entered UCLA but later transferred to Northwestern University to complete a major in psychology in 1970.
- In the course of his undergraduate studies, Skorton developed a deep interest in the sciences and philosophy that found its perfect expression in medicine. Skorton completed his medical degree at Northwestern in 1974 and returned to UCLA for his internship and residency and a cardiology fellowship in 1978-1979. During that time he became chief resident in the department of medicine.
- While at UCLA for his postgraduate work, Skorton worked with electrical engineers on a project to apply recently declassified remote-sensing technology from to medical imaging. This led to a lifelong interest in engineering as applied to imaging technology.
- Skorton was hired as assistant professor at the University of Iowa in 1981. He eventually achieved full professorships in the departments of internal medicine, electrical and computer engineering, and biomedical engineering.
- Shortly after arriving at the University of Iowa, Skorton assumed the first in a series of administrative posts:
- Director, Cardiovascular Image Processing Laboratory, 1982-1996
- Director, Division of General Internal Medicine, 1986-1989
- Associate chairman for clinical programs, Department of Internal Medicine, 1989-1992
- Vice President for Research, 1992-2002
- Vice President for Research and External Relations, 2002-2003
- President, 2003-2006
- Skorton is married to researcher Robin L. Davisson, associate professor of anatomy and cell biology at the University of Iowa. Davisson’s research focuses on the basic mechanisms of function, control and signaling in the cardiovascular system in health and disease. Her investigations employ the interdisciplinary approach of “functional genomics,” a new endeavor at the interface of classical physiology and molecular genetics. She has published numerous original research and review articles and book chapters, and has given invited presentations throughout the United States as well as in South America, Europe and Asia.
- Skorton continues to play jazz saxophone and flute, and hosts a weekly Latin jazz radio program, As Night Falls, on KSUI-FM, the University of Iowa public radio station.