Students from many of the educational programs at the UNM School of Medicine gather for a photo in the Health Sciences Library
By Michael Haederle

Writing a New Chapter

Noted Physician Leader Dr. Patricia Finn Named Dean of the UNM School of Medicine

Patricia Finn, MDPatricia W. Finn, MD, professor, head of the Department of Medicine, associate dean for Strategic Initiatives and associate program director for the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, has been named dean of The University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

In addition to her leadership roles, Finn is a noted clinician, teacher and physician scientist. She is the Earl M. Bane endowed professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, with additional faculty appointments in Microbiology, Immunology and Bioengineering. She served as president of the American Thoracic Society and is the immediate past president of the Association of Professors of Medicine.

She becomes the fifth dean in the UNM School of Medicine’s 61-year history. She will assume her new duties September 1.

“We are fortunate to have recruited Dr. Finn to lead the School of Medicine,” said Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, executive vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System.

“She is a national and international leader who has made a significant impact in her prior leadership roles and is also a very well-respected clinician, teacher, mentor and researcher. Her mature leadership abilities, commitment to inclusive excellence and strong sense of the mission to enhance the health of all New Mexicans is quite clear.”

UNM President Garnett S. Stokes said Finn’s appointment would benefit all New Mexicans.

“I could not be more pleased by the selection of Dr. Finn as our new dean of the UNM School of Medicine,” Stokes said. “I am confident she will enrich the proud legacy of the school and provide a holistic approach to the most critical parts of our unique mission to advance health and health equity for the citizens of New Mexico.”

Finn said she was drawn to UNM’s mission of promoting health equity, especially for New Mexico’s rural and underserved populations. “To further UNM’s model for integrating scientific discovery and improving health disparities is an unmissable opportunity,” she said.

“My job as a physician leader is to provide exceptional care for all in the context of scientific discovery as we train the next generation, because we are part of a local and global community,” she said. “That’s what I bring to the table.”

Finn leads a department comprising nine divisions, with more than 200 faculty, 725 staff and 235 residents and fellows, which provides critical care to underserved people from Chicago’s highly diverse inner-city population, as well as health services across Illinois

“Dr. Finn’s personal mission, and the mission of the department she has led for 10 years, is to provide exceptional patient care for all, enhance scholarly activities, train the next generation and promote diversity and inclusive excellence,” Ziedonis said.

“In her current leadership role, she has dramatically grown clinical services, research activities and educational programs. She has led national and international initiatives and organizations that made a difference in disseminating evidence-based practice with the goal of improving health outcomes.”


Patricia Finn, MD
I want to be a voice for those who may be voiceless – to have a seat at the table to make a difference.
Patricia Finn, MD

Finn is the daughter of Irish immigrants, and the first generation in her family to attend college and become a physician. She grew up in Alphabet City, a gritty neighborhood in New York City’s East Village. “I’m pretty feisty,” she said. “I do not worry about challenges and opportunities. That upbringing has only taught me to look at the North Star.”

Her parents instilled an ethic of compassion and respect for the less fortunate that drives her commitment to help the underprivileged. “I want to be a voice for those who may be voiceless – to have a seat at the table to make a difference.”

Finn graduated medical school and residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and completed a fellowship in pulmonary medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship in immunology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Although she originally planned to pursue primary care, she had a career-altering experience when she cared for a young woman with asthma in the Bronx. Reflecting on the woman’s underlying socioeconomic circumstances, “it really propelled me to go deeper into fundamental science,” Finn said. “That’s been my passion and commitment, to really integrate scientific discovery with health care for the underserved.”

Finn served as a physician, teacher and investigator at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and was the Kenneth M. Moser professor of medicine and director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, before moving to Chicago in 2012.

In her research, Finn focuses on the microbiome and immune-mediated pulmonary diseases, including asthma, sarcoidosis, transplantation and lung injury. In addition to advancing research and mentoring other scholars, she has received numerous National Institutes of Health grant awards, along with other research funding, and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and chapters on topics that include fundamental immunology, computational analysis, health disparities and social justice.

She has been invited to present her discoveries at national and international academic meetings and has served on the editorial boards of several journals, including the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, Journal of Immunology, and the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Finn has received multiple awards and honors, including the Career Investigator Award from the American Lung Association, Lynne M. Reid Scholar in Medicine Award from Harvard Medical School, Elizabeth A. Rich Award from the American Thoracic Society, and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago Distinguished Faculty of the Year. In 2007, she was inducted into the prestigious Association of American Physicians in recognition of her academic achievements and contributions to advancing medical knowledge.

In 2022, she will be inducted into the American Clinical and Climatological Association in recognition of her commitment as a physician scientist who is passionate about improving medical education, research and practice in the U.S.

Finn is married to David L. Perkins, MD, PhD, a tenured professor of Medicine and Bioengineering in the University of Illinois College of Medicine, director of the kidney transplantation program, program director for the Innovation Track in Medicine and director of the MSTP Advisory Council. Perkins is an accomplished clinician leader who has developed transplant services as well as serving as a mentor, researcher and innovator. He will be joining the faculty of the UNM Department of Internal Medicine.

Finn’s appointment follows a national search overseen by a faculty committee led by Donald Godwin, PhD, dean of the UNM College of Pharmacy. “I welcome Dr. Finn to the Land of Enchantment, and I look forward to working with her to advance the educational, research and patient care missions of both of our schools and UNM Health Sciences to improve the health of the people of New Mexico,” Godwin said.

Finn’s predecessor as dean of the medical school was Paul B. Roth, MD, MS, who stepped down following a 25-year tenure. Following his departure Martha Cole McGrew, MD, and Michael E. Richards, MD, MPA, served as interim deans.

“Dr. Finn is a nationally respected academic physician and leader with distinguished contributions in research, education, clinical care and administration,” said Richards, who also serves as UNM’s senior vice president for Clinical Affairs. “Her work in strategic planning and transformation will be especially valuable as she leads the School of Medicine into the future. We are all looking forward to her joining us.”

Ziedonis thanked both leaders for their service during the search process.

“I’m grateful to Dr. Richards for his amazing service as senior vice president and interim School of Medicine dean,” he said. “I want to thank the UNM search committee and all those who provided outstanding feedback regarding Dr. Finn’s candidacy.”

Categories: Education, News You Can Use, School of Medicine, Top Stories