Dr. Balser earned his MD and PhD in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University in 1990 and his BS in Engineering from Tulane University in 1984. He undertook residency training in anesthesiology and fellowship training in cardiac anesthesiology and in critical care medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Balser joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 1995, where he practiced cardiac anesthesiology, ICU medicine, and led an NIH-funded research program aimed at the genetics of cardiac rhythm disorders, such as sudden cardiac death. He returned to Vanderbilt in 1998 as Associate Dean for Physician Scientist Development, and soon was appointed Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, directing one of the medical center’s largest clinical service programs. He became the Medical Center’s Chief Research Officer in 2004, leading a period of scientific expansion that moved the Medical Center into the nation’s top 10 in NIH funding, launching big-science programs integrating health informatics and genomics that stimulated the Medical Center’s national leadership in personalized medicine. In 2008 he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and later that year was named the 11th Dean of Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine since its founding in 1875. In 2009, he was also named Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, with executive responsibility for all health-related programs including the hospitals, clinics, research programs, and the medical and nursing schools.
Dr. Balser has led the Vanderbilt University Medical Center through a period of marked service-volume growth, with major inpatient expansions of the children’s hospital and the adult critical care areas, bolstered by 4% compound annual growth of outpatient visits (over 2.1 million per year), and by the creation of the region’s largest, multi-state provider-led network (over 50 hospitals and 3,000 clinicians: the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network). In 2013–2014, he led a $230 million (8%) cost reduction across all mission areas, improving the Medical Center’s competitive position in a rapidly evolving price-sensitive marketplace. In coordination with the Vanderbilt Chancellor and Board of Trust, Dr. Balser has led the Medical Center through a restructuring process that concluded April 30, 2016, placing its clinicians, hospitals, clinics, research, and graduate medical education programs into a financially distinct not-for-profit corporation, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). As President and CEO of VUMC, he reports to an independent Board of Directors, while also serving as Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
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