ROOTSTOWN — As the incoming class of new medical students milled around the Northeast Ohio Medical University campus during their orientation, another new face was upstairs meeting with the board of trustees.

After an eight-month search, NEOMED announced Wednesday that Dr. John Langell, 55, of Salt Lake City, would be the university’s seventh president, effective Oct. 1. Langell was one of four finalists. He replaces Dr. Jay Gershen, who announced his retirement in October last year after 10 years as president. Langell will be paid $630,000 annually.

“NEOMED is an organization that’s already done a great deal with interdisciplinary teaching, its adoption of innovative approaches to partnering with industry, and creating new financial models to support the educational model in health care,” Langell said. “I saw this as an opportunity to do something different to help create an organization that can establish best practices for others to follow and lead the changes in health care.

Langell most recently served as the vice dean for the School of Medicine at the University of Utah and was the founder and executive director for the Center for Medical Innovation. He joined the University of Utah’s Department of Surgery in 2006 as its director of acute care surgery and also served as chief of general surgery at the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center. An Air Force veteran, Langell has four advanced degrees and more than a dozen patent filings.

Langell said that his primary focus in his first year at NEOMED will be keeping tuition low and finding other revenue streams, work that was started by Gershen.

“Part of that is figuring out whether there’s an appropriate niche for providing clinical services to the local community that can help offset the cost of education by delivering care to the local community and, at the same time, leveraging those clinical facilities to train the students who are here at NEOMED,” he said.

He also will spend time working to understand the local landscape to determine how NEOMED can better serve the Rootstown, Portage County and Northeast Ohio, as well as the academic, community, governmental, clinical and industry partnerships already in place.

“They key hurdle to get over initially for me is understanding the relationships that are in place, understanding where the benefit is coming from and how we create value together,” he said. “It’s really about managing relationships, understanding the community and academic partners, and figuring out how we work together, both for NEOMED’s sustainability and growth, but also as a local and regional health care community to ensure we’re delivering on the mission that this university has that that the state is supporting to provide high quality health care to the people of Ohio.”

Additionally, Langell said he is interested in building upon the school’s REDIZone, which provides on-campus resources to biotechnology innovators to take their research from concept to capital. Langell is particularly primed to achieve that goal, with his past experience at the University of Utah’s Center for Medical Innovation, which established “an ecosystem of industry, government and academia that came together to accelerate innovation for the improvement of health care”; his various patents; and his company Xenocor Inc., which created a laparoscopic system. He is president of the company, and as NEOMED president, he will continue to serve on its board, which was approved by NEOMED trustees.

Langell will move to Northeast Ohio at the end of September, and his family — his wife of 14 years, Dr. Sara Whittingham, and their two daughters Sydney and Grace — will follow in December. Following in the path of Gershen, who has been living in NEOMED’s Student Village since April, Langell is considering living in student housing until he finds a home for his family.

 

Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@recordpub.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoRCedu.