AUSTIN, Texas – Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin today announced that Navkiran “Kiran” K. Shokar, M.D., MPH, who has more than two decades of experience working as a family medicine physician, educator, clinical researcher and leader in academic medicine, will be the next chair of its Department of Population Health, a professor in the department and associate dean for community affairs, a new position for the school.
Shokar is currently a tenured professor of family and community medicine and molecular and translational medicine at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. She also serves as interim associate dean for clinical research, director for cancer prevention and control in the Center of Emphasis in Cancer, and as vice chair for research in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Prior to that, she spent 11 years as a faculty member at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
“This is a big win for Dell Med and for our Central Texas community,” said Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the medical school. “Kiran brings a unique combination of leadership skills, an innovation mindset, and expertise and insights from decades of on-the-ground experience in population health and community engagement
Shokar’s years of community work in El Paso were also highlighted by Maninder “Mini” Kahlon, Ph.D., Dell Med’s vice dean for the health ecosystem. “Our community impact mission will benefit from the experience that Kiran brings to the table, as well as from the dedicated attention to engagement and support that comes with this new role of associate dean for community affairs,” she said.
Shokar was born and raised in England, where she received an undergraduate degree from Cambridge University and a medical degree from Oxford University Medical School. She completed family medicine residency training in the U.K. and in Houston, where she served as chief resident. She subsequently completed a Master of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health.
Her research interests include interventions in cancer prevention and control, shared decision making and community-based research to address cancer health disparities among vulnerable, low-income and underserved populations. She has also developed innovative population health approaches to bridge the divide between the community, the health care delivery system and public health.
“With Kiran on board, Dell Med’s already-robust cancer prevention and control efforts are getting another shot in the arm, and that will have big benefits for the people of Travis County and Central Texas, particularly those in vulnerable groups,” said Michael Pignone, M.D., MPH, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, interim chair of the Department of Population Health and director of the Program on Cancer Prevention and Control at Dell Med’s Livestrong Cancer Institutes. “I’m looking forward to working with her to build a top national program in cancer prevention at UT Austin.”
Shokar has received more than $25 million in research funding from organizations including the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society, among others. She also serves as chair of CPRIT’s Prevention Advisory Committee.
In addition to her institutional leadership roles, she has a national profile that includes serving as deputy editor for the Journal of General Internal Medicine, as well as working on steering committees representing all four academic family medicine organizations and key committees of the North American Primary Care Research Group and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.
In a blog post that includes sharing what attracted her to this opportunity, Shokar noted that she is “drawn to the idea of transforming medical education and the delivery of health care, and it was refreshing to see these goals are front and center at UT Austin.
“The environment here is ripe for innovation: the culture of the medical school supports it, world-class experts in diverse fields across Dell Med and UT are already here, and an impressive array of stakeholders passionately committed to working together to tackle health are already convened. And importantly, in Austin there is significant growth and expansion of startups and technology companies that we can partner with to better deploy 21st century tools to achieve better health,” she said.