New Leaders within UM

Richard N. “Robin” Pierson, M.D., has been appointed the new senior associate dean for academic affairs and interim director of research affairs at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. In this role, Dr. Pierson, a professor of surgery in cardiac surgery, will oversee the academic and research enterprise of the School of Medicine. While continuing to direct his own National Institutes of Health-funded research laboratory and performing heart and lung transplants, he will work to ensure collaboration throughout the medical education enterprise and oversee the development of new initiatives to advance into the future. He will oversee the School of Medicine’s nearly half billion dollar research enterprise and become actively engaged in construction planning for the new and approximately $300 million Health Sciences Facility III research building, which is scheduled to be completed in 2017. In addition,  he will work collaboratively with the  campus to ensure the protection of research subjects, and to support School of Medicine and university interdisciplinary research. Dr. Pierson joined the University of Maryland in 2002 after more than a decade at Vanderbilt, where he was on faculty and director of heart and lung transplantation. Dr. Pierson replaces Bruce Jarrell, M.D., F.A.C.S., who was recently appointed chief academic and research officer and senior vice president of the University of Maryland’s founding campus in Baltimore. 

Dr. Pierson can be reached at 410-706-7399.

Elias R. Melhem, M.D., a physician-scientist with extensive experience in the research and clinical practice of neuroradiology, has been appointed as the John Dennis Chairman of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine. Set to start in October, Dr. Melhem joins the University of Maryland from the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as the Wallace Miller Sr. Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, professor of radiology and neurosurgery and director of the Division of Neuroradiology. 

At Penn, Dr. Melhem directed a robust research program that held significant National Institutes of Health funding throughout his career. He has held nearly $10 million in external research funding from the NIH to support his research program. His research focuses in part on brain function in children with sickle cell disease. His laboratory has used techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to discover that sickle cell causes progressive cognitive impairment in such children. His laboratory also examines changes in vascular reactivity to examine how tumors transform from benign to malignant, in hopes of finding early indicators for this malignant transformation. His team also uses advanced MRI techniques to evaluate upper motor neuron disease in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His plan is to continue his research at the University of Maryland. 

He received his M.D. from the University of South Alabama School of Medicine in 1988; an internship and residency in pediatrics at the University of Iowa; a residency in radiology at Johns Hopkins University in 1993; and a fellowship in neuroradiology at Johns Hopkins in 1995. 

Dr. Melhem began working at Boston University Medical Center in 1995 as an assistant professor of radiology, then director of the Division of Neuroradiology in 1997. He moved to Johns Hopkins in 1998, advancing to associate professor of radiology and research scientist at Johns Hopkins’ Kennedy Krieger Institute. In 1999 he became director of pediatric neuroimaging and medical director of the Kirby MR Research Center at Hopkins. In 2002, he joined the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Melhem is a distinguished and highly regarded physician and scientist and has received many honors. He is also a prolific scholar, having written more than 140 peer-reviewed journal articles. To reach the Department and Dr. Melhem, please call 410-328-3477.

Sheri Slezak, M.D., has been appointed as the new chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Maryland. Dr. Slezak is a professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and has been a member of the Division of Plastic Surgery since 1989. She is renowned for her work in breast reconstruction.

Dr. Slezak joins only a handful of other female plastic surgery division chiefs in the country. She attended Harvard Medical School, followed by a residency in general surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. She completed an immunology research fellowship and plastic surgery fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Slezak is presently the only female plastic surgeon on the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is author of the CoreQuest curriculum of plastic surgery, which has been adopted as the teaching text in many plastic surgery training programs throughout the country.

Dr. Slezak can be reached at or at 410-328-2360.

Marc T. Zubrow, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P., F.C.C.M., is the new vice president of Telemedicine for the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS). He also has a faculty appointment in the Department of Medicine within the University of Maryland School of Medicine. 

Dr. Zubrow was most recently at Christiana Care Health System, where he was director of Critical Care Medicine; medical director for eCare, the innovative project providing tele-ICU support to six rural hospitals in Maryland; and medical director of Flexible Monitoring. His variety of roles also included: director of MICU at Christiana Hospital and director of ICU at Wilmington Hospital.

A graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Jefferson Medical College, Dr. Zubrow completed his internal medicine residency at the Lankenau Hospital. He went on to complete a fellowship in pulmonary medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Dr. Zubrow is currently the vice chair of the tele-ICU committee for the Society of Critical Care medicine. 

In his new role, Dr. Zubrow will lead the planning and implementation of the UMMS tele—ICU program and expand the use of telemedicine across the enterprise. 

Dr. Zubrow can be reached at

This page was last updated: November 7, 2013

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