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MUSC names first-ever female College of Medicine dean

MUSC announced the appointment of Etta D. Pisano, M.D., as the next dean of the College of Medicine, pending final approval by the Board of Trustees on April 9. Pisano was selected from a national pool of candidates and will succeed Jerry Reves, M.D., who steps down June 30 after nine years of service. Pisano will become the first woman to lead the MUSC College of Medicine, and one of only about a dozen female deans of medical schools in the United States.

“Dr. Pisano is one of the rising stars in academic medicine,” said David Cole, M.D., Department of Surgery chairman and leader of the dean search committee. “She is a leader in every sense of the word and will help us build even greater excellence here in the years ahead.”   

Dr. Etta Pisano

Pisano has been a faculty member at the University of North Carolina for more than 20 years, where she is a Kenan Professor and serves as the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs of the School of Medicine.  A leader in the field of mammography, Pisano was the principal investigator of a landmark study of digital mammography published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005. The results of that study, one of the largest investigations of breast cancer screening, demonstrated advantages of digital mammography for the detection of cancers in younger women.

“I am thrilled to be joining such an outstanding institution as the dean. My family and I are very excited about this opportunity,” Pisano said.

A graduate of Dartmouth College and the Duke University School of Medicine, Pisano trained in radiology at the Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Hospital.  She has been the recipient of numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health and currently serves as the lead investigator for the $61 million Clinical and Translational Science Award to the University of North Carolina.  She has been recognized as one of the top ten experts in women’s imaging and one of the 20 most influential people in radiology.  Earlier this year, Pisano was elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

 “We are very fortunate to have attracted Pisano to the Medical University,” said MUSC President Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D.  “She is brilliant, hard-working, energetic, and entrepreneurial.  She insists on the highest standards in her own work and in the work of others.  She is the right person at the right time for this critical job.”

In addition to her professional activities, Pisano is dedicated to her family and community service. In 2004, she was recognized as the Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools Volunteer of the year, and the following year, she was selected for the Village Pride award for hometown heroes.  She is married to Jan Kylstra, M.D., a retinal surgeon who will join the MUSC Department of Ophthalmology faculty. Pisano and Kylstra have four children, Carolyn, James, Jonathan and Marijke.
Upon completing his term as dean, Reves, a Distinguished University Professor and cardiac anesthesiologist, will retire from full-time service. Under his leadership, the College of Medicine has enhanced research and clinical programs and has undertaken a complete revision of the educational curriculum. He will work part-time as a consultant in the areas of faculty development and clinical research.

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.