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Appointment of Assistant Vice Chancellors for Research

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023

TO:All UMMC Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:Dr. Joey Granger, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research
SUBJECT: Appointment of Assistant Vice Chancellors for Research

I am excited to announce that Dr. Gene “Lee” Bidwell, professor of neurology, and Dr. Caroline Compretta, associate professor of preventive medicine, have both been appointed to newly created assistant vice chancellor for research positions. The appointments are effective March 1, 2023.

Reporting to the associate vice chancellor for research, the assistant vice chancellors will support oversight of the Medical Center’s research mission. These new positions will be responsible for enhancing basic, clinical and population research.

In preparation for my June 30 retirement, Dr. Bidwell and Dr. Compretta will share responsibilities until July 1, when Dr. Bidwell will succeed me as associate vice chancellor for research. Over the next four months, I will work closely with Drs. Bidwell and Compretta in training for the important work of helping lead the research enterprise of the state’s only academic medical center.

The duo represents a dynamic pairing: Dr. Bidwell’s unique and extensive basic science and translational research experience complements Dr. Compretta’s impressive track record in translational and population health research. Under their leadership, we anticipatecontinued growth of all aspects of the Medical Center’s research mission.

Portrait of Dr. Gene BidwellDr. Bidwell, who will continue his research, has been at UMMC since 2002 when he arrived as a biochemistry doctoral student, spending his entire professional career here. In those 20 years, he has held roles at every level, providing him a broad perspective of the research conducted at the Medical Center while fostering a deep appreciation for the research mission and a desire to see it grow.

Dr. Bidwell, who serves as chief of the Neurology Basic Science Research Division and interim associate director of basic science research for the Cancer Center and Research Institute, has extensive hands-on research experience. He is an inventor on 11 patents, has published nearly 60 research papers, and has received over $10 million in extramural research funding, for which he has been awarded gold (2017), silver (2014) and bronze (2009) medals during UMMC’s annual Excellence in Research Awards ceremonies. At this year’s event, he will be presented the platinum medal for FY 2023 funding received. 

His current funded research projects focus on developing new treatments for stroke, diseases of the eye, chronic kidney disease and pregnancy disorders without risking harm to the developing fetus.

Portrait of Dr. Caroline ComprettaDr. Compretta’s unique background – she holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Kentucky and has worked in the nonprofit sector – affords her a broad perspective on the needs of underserved communities, how to effectively partner with community members to address those needs and how to integrate that perspective into an academic medical center. 

Since joining UMMC in 2016, Dr. Compretta has secured nearly $6 million in research funding, for which she was the sole recipient of the Excellence in Research platinum medal in 2022, joining the ranks of just 30 others who have reached the $5 million threshold, as well as gold (2021) and silver (2020). Her research is focused on addressing barriers to health education and promotion, including the impact of diabetes, physical activity and access to food and health care on cardiometabolic disease in resource-limited communities. She also holds leadership roles in three National Institutes of Health-funded centers

I am excited about the appointments of these two innovative researchers, and I hope you will join me in supporting their transition into these new roles. I am certain the future of the Medical Center’s research enterprise is in excellent hands.