Victor J. Dzau, MD

Victor J. Dzau, MD, was appointed chancellor for health affairs at Duke University and president and CEO of Duke University Health System effective July 1, 2004. He is also the James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and director of molecular and genomic vascular biology at Duke.

Before coming to Duke, Dzau was the Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic (Medicine) at Harvard Medical School, chairman of the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and physician in chief and director of research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. Prior to his work at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s, he served as Arthur Bloomfield Professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.

Dzau’s academic interests are in cardiovascular translational research and mission-based education.

His laboratory has studied the molecular and genetic mechanisms of cardiovascular disease and applied genomic and gene transfer technologies to develop novel therapeutic approaches. His work on the renin angiotensin system (RAS) paved the way for the contemporary understanding of RAS in cardiovascular disease and the development of RAS inhibitors (e.g. ACE inhibitor) as therapeutics.

He pioneered gene therapy for vascular disease, being the first to introduce DNA decoy molecules to block transcriptions as gene therapy in vivo. Two of his discoveries, E2F decoy and nitric oxide synthase gene therapy, are now being evaluated in clinical trials.

Dzau is particularly interested in eliminating health disparities among underrepresented populations and the socioeconomically disadvantaged both at home and abroad. In 2001, together with Paul Farmer, MD, Dzau guided the creation of a new Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School to reduce disparities and improve health care through training, research, education, and service. Since becoming chancellor for health affairs at Duke in July 2004, he has been actively working with university leaders to establish a campus-wide, multidisciplinary global health initiative that will draw on Duke resources to improve medical care for the underserved locally, nationally, and internationally.

The recipient of many awards and honors, Dzau received the first Hatter Award from the Medical Research Council of South Africa in 2000. He was awarded the prestigious Gustav Nylin Medal by the Swedish Royal College of Medicine and the Swedish Cardiology Society, the Novartis Award for Hypertension Research by the American Heart Association (which also named him one of its Distinguished Scientists for 2004), the 2004 Max Delbruck Medal by the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin, Germany, the 2005 Golden Door Award by the International Institute of Boston, a 2005 Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, and the 2006 Robert H. Williams, MD, Award by the Association of Professors of Medicine.

Dzau has served on numerous committees and advisory boards, including, previously, the Executive Committee of The Academy at Harvard Medical School (of which he is a founding member) and the boards of Stanford Health System, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Partners Healthcare, and the Harvard Clinical Research Institute.

Currently, he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Duke University Health System and Genzyme Corporation. He has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. Previous chairman of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cardiovascular Disease Advisory Committee, he served on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the NIH.

In 1999 he became editor in chief for the American Physiological Society’s new journal, Physiological Genomics. A founding member of the Society of Vascular Medicine and Biology and the Council of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology of the American Heart Association, Dzau was editor in chief of the Journal of Vascular Medicine and Biology.

Dzau received his MD degree from McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montreal and underwent postgraduate training at Harvard Medical School. He was born in Shanghai, China, raised in Hong Kong, and is a citizen of the United States.