Julie A. Freischlag, a California vascular surgeon, will be the new William Stewart Halsted Professor and director of the Department of Surgery at the School of Medicine and surgeon in chief of the hospital, effective March 1. She is the first woman and only the sixth person to serve in these posts in the school's 110-year history.
Freischlag, 48, has been professor and chief of vascular surgery and director of the Gonda Vascular Center at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine since 1998. A prolific researcher who has published more than 100 original articles and 27 book chapters, most on the surgical repair of the carotid artery and abdominal aortic aneurysms, she also has received outstanding teacher awards at every institution where she has served as a faculty member.
Her research interests lie in the effects of smoking on blood vessels' inner lining, the endothelium, resulting in hardening of the arteries. She also is looking at the reasons for failure in dialysis access sites and evaluating a new laser that can identify types of atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries. Freischlag is the national co-principal investigator of a Veterans Administration Cooperative Trial on endovascular treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms.
John L. Cameron, who has headed the Department of Surgery since 1984, will continue on as a faculty member and maintain his active surgery schedule.
In announcing Freischlag's appointment, Edward D. Miller, dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, called the new chief "a 'triple threat' surgeon."
"Julie excels in teaching as well as research and patient care," he said. "In succeeding such surgical greats as Halsted, Alfred Blalock, George Zuidema and John Cameron, she will be standing on the shoulders of giants."
George J. Dover, chairman of pediatrics, who led the national search for this position, said, "Besides being an excellent vascular surgeon, Dr. Freischlag impressed the search committee with the essential elements necessary to be a leader in academic medicine: She listens carefully, is decisive and has a vision for surgery that encompasses a very broad agenda. She will be a very strong advocate for excellence in clinical care and for the academic careers of the surgery faculty."
Freischlag received her bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Illinois in 1976 and her medical degree from Rush Medical College, Chicago, in 1980. She served residencies in general surgery and vascular surgery at UCLA Medical Center.
From 1987 to 1989, Freischlag was assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, Medical Center. She returned to UCLA in 1989 as assistant professor, also serving as chief of vascular surgery for Wadsworth Veterans Administration Medical Center. In 1992 she accepted a position as associate professor of surgery and vice chair of vascular surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. While there, she served as chief of vascular surgery and, later, chief of surgery for the Zablocki Veterans Administration Medical Center.
A winner of several teaching awards from both UCLA and the Medical College of Wisconsin, Freischlag also received an outstanding achievement award from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1993.
Her national leadership in academic societies includes serving as the representative to the American Board of Surgery for the Association of Academic Surgery, past president of the Association of Veterans Administration Surgeons and member of the executive committee of the American College of Surgeons. She presently sits on the editorial boards of six major surgery journals and is guest editor of the Journal of Vascular Surgery and the Annals of Surgery.
Freischlag and her husband, Philip Roethle, have moved to Baltimore County with their son, Taylor, 7. She also has two stepsons, Matthew, 23, and Paul, 22.