Robert Harrington Leaving Duke for Stanford University

Robert Harrington will be leaving his position as the director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, a position he has held since 2006, to become the new chair of the department of medicine at Stanford University. Harrington was also the Richard S. Stack MD Distinguished Professor at Duke University School of Medicine.

The news was publicly announced by Philip Pizzo, the dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, in The Dean’s Newsletter.

Harrington said he planned to stay active in the cardiology world at Stanford. He told CardioBrief:

As you might imagine, I love the DCRI and my job here but this was really a unique opportunity that came at a great time in our life.

Here is the press release from Duke:

DCRI Director Bob Harrington accepts position at Stanford University

January 31, 2012 – DCRI Director Bob Harrington, MD, has accepted a position as the Arthur Bloomfield professor of medicine and chairman of the department of medicine at Stanford University. He will begin his new role on July 1.

DCRI Director Bob Harrington, MD, has accepted a position as the Arthur Bloomfield professor of medicine and chairman of the department of medicine at Stanford University. He will remain in his current position into May and will begin his new role on July 1, 2012.

“This has been the most difficult decision of my professional life,” said Dr. Harrington, “but I feel it is the right move for me personally and professionally and, ultimately, for the DCRI as well. Change is hard to adjust to, but I have had great leaders on my executive team, and I know they will all help the entire DCRI become an even better organization than it is today.”

Dr. Harrington came to Duke as a cardiology fellow in 1990 following medical school at Dartmouth and Tufts (MD 1986) and internal medicine training at the University of Massachusetts. He had received his undergraduate degree in English at the College of the Holy Cross (BA 1982). As a Duke fellow, he had the opportunity to spend time on research, and he chose to do that work at the Duke Databank for Cardiovascular Diseases (precursor to the DCRI). He became involved a variety of cardiovascular clinical trials, from GUSTO-I to CARS to PURSUIT over the first few years.

In 2006, following the appointment of Rob Califf, MD, to be director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, Dr. Harrington succeeded him as the second director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

With regard to Dr. Harrington’s decision to take on this new challenge, Dr. Califf said this: “The DCRI was a concept for how to organize clinical research when it was started in 1996. Dr. Harrington has taken that concept into a new reality with major achievements including highly integrated networks conducting clinical trials and registries, growth of faculty in multiple therapeutic areas, and a blossoming of the fellowship program to become a major force in training future leaders in international clinical research. His highly effective management style has enabled the DCRI to expand its mission while remaining on solid financial ground.

“Bob made many significant contributions to this place as well as to patients around the world whose outcomes were improved by the work of the DCRI. We wish him well and know he will do great things at Stanford. And we are excited about the chance to have a major link to such a great peer university.”

The search for a new director will begin immediately, offering an opportunity to work closely with Drs. Califf and Harrington in a transition that will continue until Dr. Harrington’s departure in May.

Here is the Dean’s announcement:

Appointment of Dr. Robert A Harrington as the Chair of the Department of Medicine

I am extremely pleased to announce that Dr. Robert A. Harrington will join Stanford in July 2012 as the new Chair of the Department of Medicine. Dr. Harrington is currently Director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), a position he has held since 2006. He is also the Richard S. Stack MD Distinguished Professor at Duke University School of Medicine, where he is also a practicing cardiologist. Accompanying Dr. Harrington to Stanford will be his spouse Rhonda Larsen, who holds BS, PA and MHS degrees from Duke and who is Consultant for Clinical Research and Training at DCRI as well as Founder of Site Research Solutions.

The selection of Dr. Harrington as Stanford Chair of Medicine is the result of a search committee led by Dr. Steve Galli, Mary Hewitt Lovelace Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology. The Committee began its work in the fall of 2010 and spent hundreds of hours of efforts reviewing the status and needs of the Department of Medicine as well as the ideal characteristics of the future chair. Potential candidates were determined from consultation with leaders at Stanford and across the nation. The work of the Search Committee was wonderfully facilitated and enabled by the dedicated efforts of Ms. Kendra Baldwin along with her colleagues from the Office of Institutional Planning.

I want to thank each of the members of the Search Committee for their personal and collective contributions. They are:

  • Douglas Blaney, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine and Medical Director, Stanford Cancer Center
  • Thomas Burdon, MD, Professor, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Mark Davis, PhD, Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Director, Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection
  • Nancy Fischbein, MD, Professor, Department of Radiology
  • Sabine Girod, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery
  • Richard Hoppe, MD, Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
  • Mark Krasnow, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Biochemistry
  • Lawrence Leung, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine and Chief-of-Staff, Palo Alto VA
  • Michael Longaker, MD, Professor, Department of Surgery and Co-Director, Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
  • Frank Longo, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology & Neurological Sciences
  • Bonnie Maldonado, MD, Professor, and Chief of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics
  • William Maloney, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Daria Mochly-Rosen, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemical and Systems Biology and Senior Associate Dean for Research
  • Hugh O’Brodovich, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics
  • Renee Reijo-Pera, PhD, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Kathy Renschler, MD, Community Physician
  • Laura Roberts, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Kevin Tabb, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Stanford Hospital and Clinics (and now President and CEO of the Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center in Boston);
  • Alice Whittemore, PhD, Professor, Department of Health Research and Policy

On August 31, 2011 the Search Committee provided me with a list of finalists from a short list of eight candidates who visited Stanford from June – August 2011. I then further consulted with numerous national leaders as well as faculty and leaders in the Department of Medicine and at Stanford Medical Center and University, including the Provost, President, Trustees, Hospital CEOs, and Board of Directors among others. I also visited the home institution of finalists and discussed the candidates with institutional and national leaders. Based on a complex register of assessments, recommendations and opinions along with a convergence of skills and opportunities, I am very pleased we have been successful in convincing Dr. Harrington that he and his family will flourish at Stanford.

Dr. Harrington’s breadth of knowledge, his area of research, commitment to patient care and clinical excellence, and his leadership roles at Duke and nationally make him an ideal choice for this position. The DCRI is the largest such clinical research enterprise in the world – hosting over 200 faculty and over 1100 staff and encompassing nearly every medical discipline. The annual operating budget of the DCRI is over $150 million, 40% coming from grants and contracts. The spectrum of clinical research in the DCRI extends from Phase 1-4 clinical trials – including programs in health services research. The DCRI also hosts research fellowship training programs for both MD and PhD students and fellows. There is no question that DCRI is a unique entity and, while we have no intention or expectation of replicating such a program at Stanford, the underlying knowledge and skills are important to our unique version of “Translating Discoveries.” Further, Dr. Harrington’s knowledge and prominence in population science and quantitative medicine converge remarkably with Stanford’s burgeoning efforts in this evolving area of medicine, science and healthcare (see and below)

Dr. Harrington was born in Massachusetts and received a BA, magna cum laude, in English from the College of the Holy Cross. He then attended Dartmouth Medical School and received his MD from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1986. After training in Internal Medicine at the University of Massachusetts, where he was Chief Resident, he did a fellowship in Interventional Cardiology at Duke University Medical Center. He joined the Duke faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1995 and was promoted to Professor in 2003. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease and Interventional Cardiology and has been elected Fellow and held numerous leadership positions in the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and other national and international organizations. He has also served as an advisor and consultant to the NIH and FDA. Dr. Harrington was elected to the Association of American Physicians in 2011. His own research interests have focused on antithrombotic therapy for acute ischemic heart disease, the disease mechanism of acute coronary syndromes, clinical trial design and numerous other topics. Dr. Harrington is the author or co-author of over 350 scientific publications and reviews, and has served on numerous editorial boards and scientific advisory boards.

Of importance, Dr. Harrington is frequently described as a natural and energetic leader who is able to bring diverse groups of individuals together to achieve shared goals and objectives. He has been invited to lead important initiatives at Duke and nationally and is deeply committed to the future of academic medicine. Training future leaders and excellence in clinical care remain at the core of his mission, and he devotes part of every week to the practice of clinical cardiology – something he also intends to do at Stanford.

Bob Harrington and Rhonda Larsen have four daughters, and they have deep roots in North Carolina. While moving west to California is a major undertaking, both Rhonda and Bob are excited about the possibilities that stand before them – and we share that excitement and enthusiasm as well.


  1. […] (DTMI), will be Peterson’s boss. The DCRI’s second director, Robert Harrington, announced earlier this year that he was leaving Duke to become the chairman of the department of medicine at […]

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