Brashear Steps Into New Leadership Roles

Allison Brashear in lobby.

Published December 6, 2021

story by ellen goldbaum

Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, former dean of the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, has been appointed vice president for health sciences at the University at Buffalo and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Brashear succeeds Michael E. Cain, MD, who announced in April that he was stepping down from the two posts; he will remain a professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Tripathi: ‘Distinguished and Impactful Career’

“I am delighted that a physician, researcher and academic leader of Dr. Brashear’s international renown is joining our university community in these critical leadership roles,” Tripathi said. “As the responsibilities of these positions have profound implications for both our university’s mission of excellence and the health and vitality of our region, it was imperative that we found a visionary leader whose work reflects a demonstrated and enduring commitment to serving the greater good.”

“Dr. Brashear is just that leader,” Tripathi added. “Given her distinguished and impactful career — including as a longtime champion of inclusion and social justice — I have every confidence that she will help us enhance UB’s stature as a world-class leader in medical and health care education, training, research and clinical care.”

Academic and Administrative Leadership

As vice president for health sciences, Brashear will lead the strategic integration of interprofessional education and practice, health sciences collaborative research, and clinical programs among all of UB’s health sciences schools, departments and hospital and clinical affiliates.

In addition, she will have administrative responsibility for UB’s five health sciences schools, including the Jacobs School, particularly with regard to hospital affiliation, residency training and faculty practice plans.

As the academic and administrative head of the Jacobs School, Brashear will be responsible for providing overall leadership to the Jacobs School to promote academic excellence, foster an inclusive environment, and advance its national and international prominence in basic and translational research, medical education, clinical engagement and service.

In addition, Brashear will serve on the university’s senior leadership team, working with the president, provost, deans and other key leaders to advance the university’s mission of excellence in education, research and engagement.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Allison Brashear to UB as our next vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences,” said Weber, UB’s provost. “A groundbreaking researcher in neurology, Dr. Brashear brings significant academic and administrative leadership experience to these roles.”

“We are excited about Dr. Brashear’s vision for growing faculty research in the Jacobs School, providing innovative educational experiences to train the next generation of physicians and biomedical scientists, and continuing to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive community in the school and the university more broadly.”

Renowned Researcher; Diversity Advocate

At UC Davis, Brashear headed one of the nation’s top-tier medical schools, a national leader in research funding. Under her leadership, the school achieved record research awards of $368 million and last year more than doubled its clinical trial awards.   

Brashear has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 2008, conducting groundbreaking work on ATP1A3-related diseases. This group of rare, neurologic disorders includes a form of dystonia, Rapid-Onset Dystonia-Parkinsonism (RDP), characterized by sudden onset of involuntary muscle contractions that can be painful and prevent one’s ability to walk, talk and participate in activities of daily living.

She is the principal investigator of the multi-disciplinary team funded by the NIH focused on the Clinical Genetic and Cellular Consequences of Mutations in ATP1A3.

Brashear is an internationally renowned researcher whose work has fundamentally transformed the way spasticity and dystonia are treated. At Wake Forest School of Medicine, she co-led the Wake Forest NeuroNext Clinical Site, one of 25 sites in a clinical trial network funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, designed to expedite therapy development for neurological disorders.

Brashear was the lead investigator for the trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine that first demonstrated that botulinum toxin successfully treated wrist and finger spasticity in stroke victims.

During her 30-year career, she led over 40 clinical trials aimed at developing potential treatments for spasticity after stroke and cervical dystonia, or abnormal, involuntary movements of the neck. Her work led to approval of three forms of botulinum toxin to treat patients with disabling muscle spasms.

Brashear is also a powerful advocate for promoting diverse leaders in medicine. She was instrumental in creating one of the first national leadership programs in neurology for women. She is a frequent lecturer on the importance of diversity in medicine, and a lifelong champion of advancing women’s leadership in medicine.

Brashear: New Roles Offer ‘Unique Opportunity’

“I am excited to join the University at Buffalo as the new vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at such a pivotal time in medicine,” said Brashear. “This is a unique opportunity to help advance President Tripathi’s vision for UB to be a top-25 public research university to improve lives.”

Brashear noted that she is looking forward to working with UB’s talented faculty and staff to diversify and integrate the core missions of research, education, patient care, and community engagement across its five health sciences schools and the university overall. Working to achieve health equity will be a core tenet of these efforts.

Brashear serves on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, and has been a member of the board of the American Academy of Neurology, as well as the American Neurological Association. During her time in California she served on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) board of directors.

Career Built on Significant Experience

A native of Indiana, Brashear graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine, where she completed her residency in neurology, and later became a professor of neurology.

In 2005 she joined Wake Forest University School of Medicine, where she was the chair of neurology for 15 years. There, she held the Walter C. Teagle Endowed Chair of Neurology and was one of the first faculty members appointed to the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center board of directors. Together with Neurosurgery, she created the first service line at Wake Forest and was responsible for nearly doubling the faculty during her time as chair.

Brashear also holds an MBA from Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, with a focus on health-sector management. She completed the Harvard School of Public Health Leadership program for physicians as well as a yearlong national program for women leaders in academic medicine, Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine.

Brashear moved to Buffalo with her husband, Clifford Ong, and their two rescue dogs. They are the parents of two adult children who live on the East Coast.