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Kevin Behrns MD

Kevin Behrns, M.D. was named the new vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine effective Jan. 1, 2017.

ST. LOUIS • St. Louis University tapped a University of Florida department chair to lead the School of Medicine.

Dr. Kevin Behrns will become SLU’s medical school dean and vice president for medical affairs starting Jan. 1, the university announced Wednesday.

“The opportunity to lead an outstanding SLU faculty, staff and student body at a critical time in its long and illustrious history is truly unique,” Behrns said in a statement. “The SLU medical community is poised to make major advances in all missions, and I look forward to facilitating their aspirations.”

In his new role, Behrns is responsible for overseeing education, research, clinical and service operations of the school. Dr. Robert M. Heaney, the CEO of the university’s physician practice, SLUCare, will also report to Behrns.

Behrns, a gastrointestinal surgeon, is currently the chair of the department of surgery at the University of Florida’s medical school. Prior to that he was a surgery professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In a statement, SLU President Fred Pestello called Behrns the “right person” for the job.

“Dr. Behrns brings the experience, temperament, vision and drive to identify and maximize the many opportunities before us, including our newly expanded partnership with SSM,” Pestello said.

He replaces Dr. Philip Alderson, who announced last fall his plan to retire. Alderson was SLU’s medical school dean since 2008.

Behrns was touted in a SLU statement for his effort to increase research funding and annual revenue from outpatient visits during his time in Florida.

He was chosen by a search committee of faculty, students, the nursing school dean, an executive from SSM Health-St. Louis and a SLU trustee.