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University Health Network names new president

The University Health Network has named a Texas-based surgeon with a distinguished career in clinical research and hospital administration to the job of president and CEO. Peter Pisters, who is currently a vice-president at the Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, takes the reins from Bob Bell, who left the powerful cluster of Toronto-based research hospitals to become Ontario’s Deputy Health Minister. Dr. Pisters is a Canadian who has spent decades working at top hospitals in the United States.

After a five-month search that began at the end of March, Toronto's University Health Network (UHN) has announced that Texas-based surgeon Peter Pisters will be the group's next president and CEO.

A graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Harvard University School of Public Health, Dr. Pisters is an academic surgical oncologist with a specialty focus on sarcoma and gastrointestinal cancers. A native of St. Catharines, Ont., he currently is the vice-president, regional care system, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston.

The UHN is a group of four teaching hospitals that includes Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

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"I think I'm coming back [to Canada] during an incredible time period in the evolution of the science, in the changes occurring to medicine and the changes occurring in the delivery system," Dr. Pisters said. "The opportunity created to … bring high quality health services across geography and to enhance the global reach of a premier organization is just incredible."

An internationally renowned surgeon, Dr. Pisters takes over from Robert Bell, a former orthopedic oncologist who left the powerful cluster of Toronto-based research hospitals after nine years to become Ontario's deputy health minister in June.

Some of Dr. Pisters's responsibilities will include ensuring the group's quality of care, financial health and support for its research and education mandates. He will also be responsible for UHN's relationships with provincial and federal governments.

John Mulvihill, chair of the UHN's board of trustees, said the selection committee was determined to find someone "who understood and was committed to superb clinical care, world-class research, and a teaching environment that supports and encourages all members of UHN's community" as well as someone who "was completely committed to our efforts to have our patients know that they are partners in their care."

"I speak for all members of the Board and the Selection Committee when I say that we have found that person in Peter," Mr. Mulvihill said in an internal message. "As you see from his medical degree, Peter is Canadian and is returning home after an extraordinary career in the U.S."

Dr. Pisters will start at UHN on Jan. 1, 2015. Until then, Justine Jackson will continue to serve as interim president and CEO.

"This really fulfills a lifelong dream that [my wife] and I had of returning to Canada," Dr. Pisters said.

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