Former DOD Official Heads New BU Health Innovation Institute
Jonathan Woodson, brigadier general, was MED associate dean
A collaborative endeavor, the new institute will focus on expanding health system research initiatives across both the Charles River Campus and the Medical Campus, deepening connections between scholars, policymakers, and corporations and advancing curricular initiatives across the University’s schools and colleges. With Woodson as director, it will focus on bringing together world-class academic, industry, and regulatory resources to address important national and global health care challenges.
Freeman says the institute is extremely fortunate to have a leader of Woodson’s stature, adding that health care and policy is front and center in issues affecting the global economy.
“The institute is a unique opportunity for BU to distinguish itself in the highly competitive universe of research universities,” says Freeman. “I am very pleased and excited that the business school is the home for administering this University-wide institute, which brings at least nine BU schools and colleges together and will drive progress for years and years to come.”
The directorship marks a homecoming for Woodson. Before his appointment to the DOD by President Obama, he was a MED professor of surgery and associate dean for students, diversity, and multicultural affairs and senior attending vascular surgeon at Boston Medical Center. He holds the rank of brigadier general in the US Army Reserve, and served as assistant surgeon general for reserve affairs, force structure and mobilization, in the Office of the Surgeon General, and as deputy commander of the Army Reserve Medical Command.
For Woodson, steeped in every aspect of health care, heading the institute is a perfect fit. At the DOD, he administered the more than $50 billion Military Health System (MHS) budget and was principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense for health issues. With 9.4 million beneficiaries worldwide, the MHS comprises over 133,000 military and civilian doctors, nurses, medical educators, researchers, health care providers, allied health professionals, and health administration personnel worldwide, providing the United States with an integrated health care delivery and expeditionary medical, educational, and research capability.
The recipient of the 2009 Gold Humanism in Medicine Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Woodson was deployed in Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Storm, in Kosovo, and in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is a former senior medical officer with the National Disaster Management System, where he responded to the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. Woodson’s many military awards and decorations include the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster.
Woodson commends the work Questrom has done toward improving intelligent design and operation, as well as in training future leaders in health care. “In the 21st century,” he says, “these leaders need to be equipped with new skills to utilize data and organize multidisciplinary teams to solve complex problems.” He says the institute will consider how all the information out there—about 15,000 biomedical articles published every month—can shape the way we deliver health care. And then, “as you drive innovation, how do you encode it?” he asks. “We must create smart, sustainable public policy that all people will benefit from.”
Describing the new endeavor as “a University-wide institute that will leverage all pockets of excellence across the University and drive innovation across domains,” Woodson says further that there is “a hunger out there for identifying new ways to lead health organizations and meet emerging imperatives and achieve better health for the populations we serve.
“The overarching message is, we have got to move to intelligent design driven by data and integrating new technology, redesign of health promotion and health care delivery, 21st-century leadership, and sound policy,” he says.
Woodson is a graduate of the City College of New York and the New York University School of Medicine. He received his postgraduate medical education at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and completed residency training in internal medicine and general and vascular surgery. He is board-certified in internal medicine, general surgery, vascular surgery, and critical care surgery. He also holds a master’s degree in strategic studies (concentration in strategic leadership) from the US Army War College. In 1992, he was awarded a research fellowship at the Association of American Medical Colleges Health Services Research Institute.
This BU Today story was written by Susan Seligson.