Darrell G. Kirch, MD
School of Medicine Commencement Address
President and CEO, Association of American Medical Colleges
Darrell G. Kirch, MD, is president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Founded in 1876 and based in Washington, D.C., the AAMC is a not-for-profit association representing all 145 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves 148,000 faculty members, 83,000 medical students, and 115,000 resident physicians.
A distinguished physician, educator, and medical scientist, Dr. Kirch speaks and publishes widely on the need for transformation in the nation’s health care system and how academic medicine can lead that change across medical education, medical research, and patient care. His career spans all aspects of academic medicine and includes leadership positions at two medical schools and academic health systems, as well as at the National Institutes of Health.
Before becoming AAMC president, Dr. Kirch was selected as chair-elect of the association and co-chaired the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accreditation body for medical schools. He also has served as chair of the AAMC Council of Deans Administrative Board and the American Medical Association Section on Medical Schools.
Dr. Kirch became AAMC president in July 2006 following six years as senior vice president for health affairs, dean of the College of Medicine, and CEO of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at The Pennsylvania State University, where he and his leadership team are credited with revitalizing the institution and guiding it through a period of educational innovation and major growth in clinical activity and research funding. Before joining Penn State, Dr. Kirch held several leadership positions at the Medical College of Georgia from 1994 to 2000.
As a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Dr. Kirch conducted research on the biological basis of and clinical treatments for severe neuropsychiatric disorders. Following the completion of his residency training at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, he joined the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland, where he was named acting scientific director in 1993. His NIMH contributions were recognized when he received the Outstanding Service Medal of the United States Public Health Service.
Dr. Kirch is a member of several professional societies, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Psychiatrists, and the American Medical Association. He serves as chair of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Special Medical Advisory Group. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in 2007.
A native of Denver, Dr. Kirch received his BA and MD degrees from the University of Colorado, which in 2002 presented him with its Silver and Gold Alumni Award. He has held medical faculty positions at Penn State, the Medical College of Georgia, and George Washington University. A prolific writer and public speaker, Dr. Kirch has published more than 140 articles and book chapters and made numerous presentations to medical, educational, scientific, and advocacy organizations.