Joseph C. Kolars, M.D., became the first senior associate dean for education and global initiatives on June 1, 2009. He serves as the Medical School’s lead for the oversight and expansion of our education mission and our global initiatives. In this role, he leads our efforts to adapt and enhance the full spectrum of medical training — from undergraduate to continuing education to biomedical research education — and to bring it together with global impact.
Dr. Kolars’ career has been focused on physician education, and he has held a number of leadership roles in education programs for medical students, residents, and fellows, including program director of one of the largest internal medicine residencies in the U.S. His scholarship has largely emphasized educational outcomes, measurements of competency, faculty development, and effective learning venues. He has worked closely with the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education on its Educational Innovations Project that was designed to reform graduate medical education.
He has extensive international experience, including numerous faculty development programs worldwide. In 2010, he was appointed inaugural co-director of the Joint Institute for Clinical and Translational Research between the University of Michigan Medical School and Peking University Health Science Center. This virtual institute consists of four thematic programs and three cores to facilitate joint research projects and training initiatives between the schools and their affiliated hospitals. He has given lectures or conducted classes in many parts of the globe, including China, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Peru, Germany, Pakistan, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Vietnam. For more than three years, he lived in Shanghai with his family to establish a new health care system that could also serve as a learning site for local physicians.
A gastroenterologist, Dr. Kolars returned to the University of Michigan from the Mayo Clinic, where he held several positions, including professor of medicine, residency program director in the Department of Internal Medicine, and consultant to the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. From late-2007 to mid-2012, he divided his time between the Mayo Clinic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he works on education systems that will build human resource capacity to transform health. He is continuing his work on these initiatives on behalf of the Gates Foundation.
Dr. Kolars earned his medical degree in 1982 from the University of Minnesota Medical School. He completed his postgraduate training here at the U-M Medical School and then continued at the U-M, first as an instructor in the Department of Internal Medicine in 1989, then as an assistant professor in 1991, and as an associate professor with tenure in 1995. He served as associate chair for graduate medical education and residency program director in the Department of Internal Medicine from 1993-96.