Ralph Snyderman, MD, is Chancellor Emeritus, Duke University, James B. Duke Professor of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Research in Personalized Health Care at the Duke University School of Medicine. He previously served as Chancellor for Health Affairs at Duke University and as the founding President and CEO of the Duke University Health System; Dean of the School of Medicine at Duke University; Chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges; Senior Vice President, Medical Research and Development, Genentech, Inc.; Director, Laboratory of Immune Effector Function, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Chief, Division of Rheumatology and Immunology at Duke; and Senior Investigator, National Institutes of Health. Dr. Snyderman has received numerous honors, including the Personalized Medicine World Conference Pioneer Award (2016), the North Carolina Life Sciences Leadership Award (2014), the Association of American Medical Colleges David E. Rogers Award (2012), the Industr
Relationships, Leadership, and Lessons
Dr. Snyderman did not initially look forward to asking others for money on behalf of Duke medical center, but fund raising came with the job, and so he determined to do his best. He soon came to realize that philanthropy is about establishing and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships, not just about trying to separate wealthy people from their money. He made lasting friendships from his efforts at development which ended up being vastly more successful and personally satisfying than he ever suspected they might.
Leading a major institution like the Duke University Medical Center and Health System necessarily involved both communication and reputational issues both within and beyond the institution. Under his tenure, Duke rose to be perceived as among the most innovative medical institutions. Inevitably crises arose as well. One of these involved the temporary suspension of Duke’s large program of clinical trials by a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. Another involved the organ transplantation error that resulted in the death of a 17 year-old girl. Both incidents made national news and pushed the medical center leadership into emergency management mode and ultimately growth.