Gary V. Desir, M.D., HS ’83, FW ’87, professor of medicine (nephrology), will lead the Department of Internal Medicine as interim chair, pending a search for a permanent chair. He fills the vacancy left by Jack A. Elias, M.D., who is the new dean at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School. Desir is the department’s associate chair for veterans affairs and chief of the medical service at the VA Connecticut Health System (VACHS), a position he has held since 2004. He also chairs the research and development committee at VACHS.

Desir attends on the medical and renal services at VACHS, where he oversees a laboratory research program that has resulted in the identification and validation of a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity and diabetes and the discovery of a novel pathway for catecholamines metabolism. His laboratory identified a novel human kidney protein called renalase that regulates both heart contraction and blood pressure. He is the scientific founder of Ren Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company dedicated to developing novel therapies for cardiovascular diseases and chronic kidney disease. Desir also holds a faculty appointment at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he has co-taught a course in sustainable development in post-disaster Haiti. He was a member of a team of clinicians who traveled to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation.