Taking his leave

Dean Harrington to step down in December

Dr. John T. Harrington, the 17th dean of Tufts School of Medicine, will step down on December 31—two months after the Jaharis Family Center for Biomedical and Nutrition Research, the first purpose-built research building in medical school history, is dedicated on the Boston campus.

"I know that many of you will agree that he will be deeply missed for his outstanding leadership and vision during his seven years at the helm of Tufts medical school," Senior Vice President and Provost Sol Gittleman wrote in a letter to the Tufts community.

Dean John T. Harrington © Mark Morelli

"His achievements at Tufts are far too numerous to list. However, we are particularly fortunate that he has developed a clear plan to expand the school's research base over the next four years and that he has tirelessly pursued the building of a world-class research facility, the Jaharis Center," Gittleman wrote. "In addition, the Tufts Health Sciences Database developed during his tenure has captured national attention and recognition as a model of a digital library, online curriculum and electronic curriculum management system."

Gittleman noted that Harrington has created important and stronger relationships with each of Tufts' affiliated hospitals. "That New England Medical Center has chosen to place 'Tufts' before its name once again is also a fitting tribute to John's extraordinary professionalism, interpersonal skills and disarming Irish charm," he said.

In a letter to the medical school community, Harrington said, "I feel very good about the direction the school is heading in, and I believe that it is now an appropriate time to take my leave. I always have been a believer in bringing in 'new blood' from time to time to rejuvenate our institutions…I have had a wonderful and exciting time as your dean, and with the help of all of you, I believe we have accomplished much."

Harrington is a magna cum laude graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and a cum laude graduate of Yale School of Medicine. He did his postgraduate training in internal medicine at North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill and in nephrology at Tufts-New England Medical Center (T-NEMC). Following a short tenure on the faculty at Boston University School of Medicine, he returned to T-NEMC and joined the Division of Nephrology. During the next 20 years, he was a cornerstone of the division's clinical training and research programs. He developed the medical center's hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and renal transplant programs, and he served as director of the hemodialysis unit and administrative director of the intensive care unit.

Harrington trained scores of medical students, residents and fellows in nephrology and made important original contributions to clinical nephrology. With colleagues from Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital, Harrington developed the first U.S. multi-center, randomized clinical trial in nephrology. He rose through the professional ranks and became an internationally respected scholar in nephrology. In 1978, he co-founded "Nephrology Forum," a monthly educational piece appearing in Kidney International, considered the most highly respected nephrology information update in the world.

From 1981 to 1986, Harrington served as chief of the general medicine division of T-NEMC. For the next eight years, he was chief of medicine at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, a Tufts teaching affiliate. In 1994, he was appointed academic dean at the School of Medicine and became dean the following year.

Gittleman said he will be working with Tufts' new provost, Jamshed Bharucha, to set in motion a national search to find the next medical school dean.