October 25, 2023

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Helen Lee, MD, MPH, as the new director of the GPPA Medical Scholars Program, the University of Illinois College of Medicine’s combined baccalaureate-MD program. Dr. Lee, a tenured associate professor of anesthesiology, is a clinician-scientist with an active NIH-funded research program focusing on health disparities at the intersection of medicine and dentistry.

Dr. Lee has been an active mentor of undergraduate and graduate students across several health professions, including medicine, dentistry, public health, psychology, and economics. She has served on the College of Medicine Committee on Admissions since 2019. Dr. Lee’s investment in mentoring and in diversity, equity and inclusion also includes co-creating and co-leading the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia’s Mission Driven Mentoring Program. At the University of Illinois system level, Dr. Lee is a Collaborating Scholar at the Institute of Government & Public Affairs, and in 2021-22 she was a Public Voices Fellow, part of a national program training academic faculty to communicate their expertise to the general public in order to effect change.

Dr. Lee is a graduate of Wellesley College and received her MPH from Boston University and MD from the University of North Dakota, her native state. She then trained in anesthesiology and critical care at the University of Chicago and completed fellowships in pediatric anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins and a research fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle.

She succeeds Donald Chambers, PhD, who was instrumental in creating the program in 1996 and served as its director for more than 20 years. Under Dr. Chambers’ visionary leadership, the program became the first combined baccalaureate-MD program to incorporate a required curriculum, allowing students to better understand the profession of medicine and guide their professional development, along with a robust advising and mentoring program and a required capstone project.  Over the last 25 years, almost half of the Riddle Prize recipients for the top UIC College of Liberal Arts & Sciences graduate have been students in the program. The GPPA program has approximately 1,000 alumni, and of those who have completed their graduate medical education, about one-third have pursued careers in academic medicine.

Dr. Chambers will continue his contributions to the program as a member of its teaching faculty, a student advisor, and a member of its executive committee, as will Dr. Rhonna Cohen, who served as associate director from 2010 to 2023. A new associate director will be named later this academic year.

Please join us in extending gratitude to Drs. Chambers and Cohen for their leadership, and in welcoming Dr. Lee as the new GPPA Medical Scholars Program director. Dr. Lee was introduced to the incoming first-year undergraduate class at their welcoming ceremony last month. Additional town hall meetings with other Medical Scholars Program students will be conducted this fall.

Raymond H. Curry, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Educational Affairs

Mark I. Rosenblatt, MD, PhD, MBA, MHA
G. Stephen Irwin Executive Dean