The appointment of a top Vanderbilt University healthcare official to the board of directors of a major pharmaceutical company did not go unnoticed by the university or its medical center.
In fact, a spokesman says, the appointment of Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for health affairs at Vanderbilt and chief executive officer of 803-bed Vanderbilt University Medical Center, to the board of Merck & Co. was reviewed by three different panels, and Jacobson was given specific instructions on what he has to do to manage potential conflicts of interest.
Jacobson, 60, joined Mercks board Dec. 18, 2007 (Jacobson joins Merck & Co. board of directors, Jan. 7). He filled a new seat as the board expanded, and will stand for election by the companys stockholders in April. There is no direct conflict of interest, provided his conflict issues are managed properly, Vanderbilt spokesman Craig Boerner says.
Jacobson, the president of the Society of Medical Administrators, was named the ninth-most powerful physician-executive and the 97th-most powerful person in healthcare in 2007 by readers of Modern Physician and Modern Healthcare, respectively. He is a co-founder of Renal Care Group, which was sold to Fresenius Medical Care for $3.5 billion in 2006; the board chairman of CeloNova BioSciences; a board member and former chairman of the Nashville Health Care Council; the former board chairman of EBM Solutions (which was sold to healthcare publisher HealthGate Data Corp. on whose board Jacobson also serves); and a board member of both Kinetic Concepts and Ingram Industries.
He also is a senior adviser for Radiation Oncology Services of America and for Informatics Corporation of Americaa company created to market an electronic medical-record system developed at Vanderbilt.
Boerner says Jacobsons appointment to the Merck board was reviewed by the medical centers compliance committee, the universitys conflict committee, the audit committee of the universitys board of trust, and by the general counsels office. Boerner adds that all rulings by the compliance and conflict committees automatically go before the boards audit panel for a final ruling.
Boerner says that Jacobson was told to remove himself from the board under certain situationssuch as if Merck and Vanderbilt were involved in lawsuits against each otherand recuse himself from any university or medical center activity that could potentially benefit Merck.What do you think? Write us with your comments at [email protected]. Please include your name, title and hometown.