Mack T. Ruffin IV, M.D., M.P.H., the Dr. Max and Buena Research Professor of Family Medicine, has accepted the position of Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
During his 27 years with the Department, Dr. Ruffin, a talented researcher, has helped to develop the Department into one of the top family medicine research programs in the country. For the past twelve years, he has led the research team as the associate chair for research programs. He was named the Dr. Max and Buena Lichter Research Professor in 2011. Under his leadership the Department has remained in the top ten of NIH funding within family medicine.
“When I accepted Tom Schwenk’s offer to join the 12 academic faculty of our Department in 1989, I never imagined how much we would accomplish. From these humble beginnings, we have grown from a neglected unit to an essential department to UMHS and a nationally recognized leader in our discipline. The experiences provided by the Department’s leaders and all of my colleagues have been amazing. I am well prepared to take on this new leadership position,” noted Dr. Ruffin.
Dr. Ruffin’s research focuses on cancer prevention, chemoprevention and cancer screening. He is dedicated to changing patient and physician practices to promote cancer prevention. A well-respected academic family physician, Dr. Ruffin has published more than 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 13 book chapters, 20 commentaries, and one book. The National Institutes for Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society and many private foundations have supported Dr. Ruffin’s research with funding. Dr. Ruffin was recognized for his research success with election into the League of Research Excellence at the University of Michigan Medical School in 2014. His current studies on stool microbiome could dramatically change our understanding of colorectal cancer and lead to new non-invasive to screening methods.
The Department of Family and Community Medicine of the Penn State College of Medicine/Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is located in Hershey, Penn. The faculty members are very active clinically, seeing patients across Pennsylvania. The department manages two residency programs and is the home for the Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center program, which allows health professions students to do rotations in underserved areas around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“I am honored to be chosen to lead the talented faculty and staff in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Dr. Ruffin said. “I look forward to this amazing opportunity to build upon their success in multiple areas, especially recruiting the next generation of research faculty.”
“It is wonderful to see Dr. Ruffin selected as the new chair at Penn State. He has made innumerable contributions to our department in all our missions over the years, and is well positioned to assume this role at a fellow B1G university. We will be sad to see him go, though are excited for him at the same time,” said Philip Zazove, M.D., the George A. Dean, M.D. Chair of Family Medicine.
Dr. Ruffin earned his medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia, and completed a family practice residency at Wake Forest Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He earned his M.P.H. in epidemiology at the University of Minnesota while completing a research fellowship. In addition to his professional work, Dr. Ruffin is active in community service as a volunteer physician and Boy Scout leader.
His retirement from the University of Michigan will be effective on August 31 and he will begin his new role on September 1. Though the Department is sorry to lose his talents and expertise, he will retain an appointment as emeritus professor. He plans to maintain a number of collaborations to finish current and begin new research projects.
His colleagues express mixed emotions at this news.
“Michigan will be left with a huge hole that will be filled by no one. I am happy for Dr. Ruffin and for Penn State as he embarks on another exciting chapter in his life. I will be eternally grateful for the guidance and support he provided me,” said Masahito Jimbo, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., professor.
“I admire Mack’s values of ethics and fairness, the ways in which he quietly advocates for his patients, for staff, for other faculty, and for doing what’s right. He has reached out in support during some difficult times for me, and I see him do the same when others need help. While I know this is a great opportunity for him, personally and professionally I will miss his advice, guidance, and friendship,” said Katherine J. Gold, M.D., M.S.W., M.S., assistant professor.
“Mack Ruffin always provides a sharp and critical eye relative to the big picture, and achieving the best science to help promote the health of patients and the advancement of the family medicine as a research discipline. He will be missed tremendously, but will now in his role as Chair be in an even better position to lead a cadre of academic physicians to achieve those goals,” said Michael D. Fetters, M.D., M.P.H., M.A., professor.
Dr. Ruffin is the second member of the Department’s faculty to transition to the role of chair of an external family medicine department. Lee A. Green, M.D., M.P.H., professor emeritus, is the chair of the University of Alberta Department of Family Medicine.