Former CEO of Regenstrief to chair new Department of Population Health at Dell Medical School

Forrest Milburn

The Dell Medical School announced William Tierney will chair the newly formed Department of Population Health.

Tierney will begin his tenure as the chair of the department in January, according to a Monday press release. Since 2010, Tierney previously served as the CEO and president of the Regenstrief Institute, an Indiana-based nonprofit that seeks to improve public health in the Indianapolis area.

“Tierney’s got three decades of experience in research and clinical work here, and he is setting up the Department of Population Health,” said Thane Peterson, executive operating officer for the Regenstrief Institute. “He’s going to be recruiting faculty and staff to help run the department. I really think he’s going to keep following the agenda that has already been set by Dean Clay [Johnston].”

According to the Dell Medical School website, the Department of Population Health studies and researches epidemiology, biostatistics and other preventative health programs to improve Travis County public health services.  

“[Tierney] has expressed, appropriately, that his first priority is to get to know the people, issues and leaders across this community,” said Clay Johnston, inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School. “That’s a vital first step, obviously. I expect that in short order, as Bill gets a full picture of our community, you’ll see a number of initiatives that leverage our faculty and residents, as well as our partners and stakeholders, to focus on people’s overall lives as much as their immediate illnesses.”

Tierney said he plans on using his expertise as a health services researcher to enhance public health activities, increase access to primary care facilities and strengthen community-based participatory research, among other initatives.

“The people of Travis County have made a visionary investment in this medical school,” Tierney said in a statement. “The Department of Population Health will provide dividends on that investment by creating innovative, collaborative models to help people get and stay healthy.”

Peterson said staff and faculty with the nonprofit are saddened by Tierney’s departure but said they know Tierney will excel as chair of the
new department.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with [Tierney] for two years, and I wish I had a longer tenure to be able to work with him,” Peterson said. “So the good thing for me is [Tierney] has become an exceptionally good friend, and we are already looking for ways of how we can collaborate with Bill Tierney in his new role at
the University."