After more than four decades of exemplary service and leadership, Wolfgang Dillmann, MD, the Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine, retired June 30.

Dr. Dillmann has been an outstanding member of our community, meeting the highest standards of research, teaching and clinical excellence since joining our faculty in 1979 as an assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 

Under Dr. Dillmann’s leadership, the Department of Medicine — the largest department within the School of Medicine — has flourished with research funding approximately doubling in the last decade and the number of full-time faculty increasing from 350 to 500. The residency program has also grown under his watchful eye; today there are more than 130 medical residents in the department. The residents’ pass rate for the internal medicine board certification exam has been 100 percent for the last three years.

Department chair since 2012, Dr. Dillmann established the Division of Regenerative Medicine and the Global Public Health section within the Division of Infectious Diseases, both prescient, forward-thinking moves. 

A long-time champion of the underserved and underrepresented, he supported the creation of a Director of Diversity Medicine and Faculty Outreach Position, as well as a Junior Faculty Mentoring Program to help early career physician-scientists. Department leaders, faculty and staff have expressed their gratitude to his devotion to mentoring junior faculty and first-generation college graduates. 

In addition to his thoughtful leadership and dedication to medical education, Dr. Dillmann is an internationally recognized physician-scientist, renowned for his expertise in cardiac metabolism and the effects of thyroid disease and diabetes upon heart function. He made important advances in understanding the role of calcium in cardiac contractility and the response of heat shock proteins in ischemic heart disease. He later embraced genetic engineering and gene therapy as ways to study and mediate cardiac disease processes. Since joining UC San Diego, Dr. Dillmann has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles on these and related topics and became a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, both prestigious honorific societies.

>From 2005 to 2010, Dr. Dillmann was chief of the Endocrinology and Metabolism Division, where he was instrumental in developing and re-certifying the Endocrine Fellowship Training Program. He was selected as interim chair of the Department of Medicine in 2010. In 2012, he was named the Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine, the school’s first faculty-funded endowed chair position.

Dr. Dillmann was born in Germany and earned his medical degree from the University of Munich in 1970. He came to the United States to complete a medical internship at City Hospital Center, Elmhurst, Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. His research training in endocrinology and metabolism began at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, with his esteemed mentor Dr. Jack Oppenheimer. He credits his early, highly productive and enjoyable research experience as instrumental in steering his path as a physician-scientist.

We are honored that Wolfgang chose to devote his distinguished career to our institution. He has been a colleague, mentor and friend to many and will be missed (though you can probably still find him at his laboratory, where he will be continuing his research, now on the heart and aging).

Please join us in thanking Dr. Dillmann for enduring dedication, inspiring leadership and as an exemplar of what it means to be a physician-scientist. 

The search for a new chair has begun. 

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