From the desk of the EMD: What is an Executive Medical Director? Why does the College need one?

December 19, 2016


Dr. Blaiss

For the last seven years, Bob Lanier, MD, FACAAI, has been the Executive Medical Director (EMD) of the College. So what is the big deal? The College has a president, president-elect, vice president, and treasurer, along with the Board of Regents – don’t they lead the College? Isn’t there an administrative staff in Chicago that conducts the day-to-day business and all the activities related to the Annual Scientific Meeting? Why do we need an EMD? In fact, what is an EMD? What has Dr. Lanier really done for you and me in this post over the last seven years?

Let’s start with what an EMD of the College does from day to day. The person in this position acts as a bridge between the College leadership and the staff, relieves pressure on the president and the leadership of the College by acting in a managerial role, implements the vision of the College leadership, and acts in an advisory role for potential conflicts of interest. The EMD also provides guidance and assistance to the leadership in the areas of internal and external communications, advocacy, education, governance, finance, practice management, legal issues and new project analysis. Though it is listed as a part-time job, it has full-time responsibilities to the College. Dr. Lanier has done all of the above things and much more over the last seven years with no glory and without the knowledge of most College members.

Dr. Lanier has done a yeoman’s job in implementing the projects developed by the College leadership. The crown jewel during his tenure as EMD has been Vision 2020. He has overseen and coordinated this initiative. This has led to streamlining the organization with new governance and giving more allergists a role in the College. Vision 2020 has brought new educational activities for the practicing allergist. Better communication with a user friendly website for the members and the public has been a key part of this plan. Another major endeavor that Dr. Lanier helped oversee and nurture was the Advocacy Council, which grew out of the loss of the Joint Council. With all the changes taking place in health care in the United States, having a strong socioeconomic/political committee in the College is vital for our membership.

He richly deserved the Gold Headed Cane Award, the top award of the College, bestowed on him at the San Francisco Meeting. This honor in medicine goes back to the 18th century practice of presenting a gold-headed cane to the pre-eminent physician in English society. One such cane was continuously carried from 1689 to 1825 by five distinguished British physicians and now resides in the Royal College of Physicians in London. For his lifelong work for the College and for all of allergy, he easily met the criteria for this distinguished honor.

Now I will be taking over the role of EMD. I know I can’t replace Dr. Lanier, but I will do my best to carry out the “behind the scenes” duties of the EMD under the strong leadership of our President, Stephen Tilles, MD, FACAAI, and our President-Elect, Brad Chipps, MD, FACAAI.

Michael Blaiss, MD, FACAAI, Executive Medical Director