Daniel R. Alonso, dean of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) since its inception in 2001, will retire Jan. 1, 2009.
Javaid Sheikh, deputy dean of WCMC-Q, will take over as interim dean. Alonso will become dean emeritus and continue to serve the college in an advisory role through the transition.
Alonso's eight years at the helm witnessed the start-up of WCMC-Q. Through a partnership with Qatar Foundation, he has steered the college's growth from a fledgling organization in temporary facilities to a state-of-the-art medical school. His tenure has seen the college through its first complete educational cycle, culminating in the May 2008 graduation of the inaugural class.
"The vision and ongoing support of the Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al Missned, chairperson of Qatar Foundation, and the leadership of the country has made my tenure both enjoyable and stimulating," Alonso said. "I would like to take the opportunity to thank them, our partners and my colleagues for their ongoing commitment to WCMC-Q. Their drive to create this world-class higher education model is unique.
"WCMC-Q is in very good shape and is inspiring the next generation of doctors," Alonso said. "We have met the important milestone of graduating the inaugural class, and the other two legs of our triple mission -- research and patient care -- are steadily progressing."
Under Alonso's guidance, WCMC-Q has formed partnerships with Hamad Medical Corporation, the National Health Authority, Qatar Diabetes Association and other local entities, providing strong links between the college, the medical community and opinion leaders across Qatar.
Working with Qatar Foundation, Alonso laid the groundwork for a comprehensive biomedical research program with a five-year plan of development.
Also with Qatar Foundation, WCMC-Q is helping plan the Sidra Medical and Research Center, the teaching hospital scheduled to open in 2011. Together, WCMC-Q and Sidra will form an academic medical center on the outskirts of Doha in Education City, where both Cornell-appointed faculty and students will participate.
Alonso joined the faculty of the previously named Cornell University Medical College in New York in 1969, and became a full professor in 1984. In 1982 he was appointed associate dean of admissions and student affairs and later served as senior associate dean for academic affairs. In that role, he directed a major curricular reform that was implemented in the fall 1996, coinciding with the opening of the Weill Education Center, a new teaching facility designed under his supervision. He currently serves WCMC-Q as both dean and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine.
A committee to conduct an international search for a new dean will be appointed by Antonio Gotto, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and provost of medical affairs of Cornell.