A Korean-American has become the first dean of an Ivy League’s medical school.
Weill Cornell Medicine named Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, a physician and scientist specializing in lung diseases, as the new dean. Choi, who is now set to lead one of the biggest medical institutions in the country, has been an interim dean since June.
Cornell’s Board of Overseers, consisting of 19 people, chose Choi unanimously to fill the vacant position on a permanent basis.
“I send my warmest congratulations to Dr. Augustine Choi on his appointment as dean,” said Cornell’s 14th president Martha E. Pollack. “I look forward to furthering collaborations across campuses and to working jointly with him to enhance the university’s strengths in the life sciences.”
With the appointment, Choi becomes the first ever Korean-American to become the dean of an Ivy League medical school. His position entails the role of leading a staff of approximately 3,000 in 40 hospitals across New York with a combined annual budget of $1.8 billion.
“Being selected as dean is both an incredibly humbling and a joyful experience,” said Choi. “I am ready to intensify my efforts on behalf of our students, trainees, faculty and staff and to guide Weill Cornell Medicine into the future as it strives to attain new levels of excellence. I am certain that, working together, we are a triple threat and can make lasting and impactful contributions in health care, scientific discovery and education.”
Choi immigrated to the U.S. with his parents when he was a middle school student. After receiving his MD from the University of Louisville in 1984, he served on the faculty and medical staff of Johns Hopkins, Yale and Harvard.
In 2011, he received the Ho-Am Prize in Medicine for his outstanding contributions to the development of science and medicine. The award in Korea is referred to as the “domestic Nobel Prize.”
Choi grew up with a father who also practiced medicine. In 1962, his late father successfully operated a heart surgery with a heart-lung machine. Choi’s older brother, Justin, is a resident at Yale while his younger brother Alex is also attending University of Michigan Medical School.
By Koo Hyun Chung