News Local/State

U Of I Names First Dean Of New Medical School

King Li of Wake Forest University, the inaugural dean and chief academic officer of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

King Li of Wake Forest University, the inaugural dean and chief academic officer of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. WFBH Photography

The University of Illinois has hired a doctor who holds 16 patents and whose background includes research and clinical roles to leads its new engineering-based medical school. The U of I said Tuesday that King Li is expected to be appointed as dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine by trustees Sept. 8.

Li would begin work Oct.1 and will be paid $650,000 a year.

"My whole life, I've tried to do something unique and different, and impactful," he said. "As someone who has a risk-taking and entrepreneurial spirit, this is very exciting."

Li called the new position one of "high-risk, high return" and wasn't concerned about Illinois' budget woes.

"A university with this history, and the sucess they have in a really long period, I'm sure it can overcome many barriers to continue to be one of the greatest in the world. I think in this new venture, I have more chances to succeed than chances to fail," he said. “My whole life, I’ve been trying to do something unique and different, and impactful, so this is really something to match my personality because I think there’s a lot of opportunity to innovate, and opportunity to work with different stakeholders to find new ways of doing things," he said.

"He has a deep knowledge of all facets of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine concept, particularly its engineering-based foundation and public-private structure, and he is a highly regarded scholar who commands respect in his discipline and in the medical profession," said Edward Feser, U of I Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, in a mass e-mail to the Urbana campus Tuesday. "Equally important, he is excited about engaging faculty, disciplines and colleges across the campus as well as physician colleagues in the Carle system and beyond to successfully lead this new college."

Feser and Carle Chief Medical Officer Matthew Gibb reommended Li from a pool of candidates in an international search.

State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) issued a statement, says he's "very much encouraged" by his hiring.

"I have been a strong supporter of the new College of Medicine in the legislature because this is about the future of community through the fusion of medicine and technology," he said. "Not to mention that it will increase the number of good paying jobs available here in central Illinois."
Li is the senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at Wake Forest University, and deputy director of the university's cancer center. He's held positions with the National Institutes of Health and Stanford University. He earned a medical degree from the University of Toronto.
The new medical school in Urbana will enroll its first students in 2018 and train them to apply engineering and technology to medicine.  It's expected to have 32 students in its first class.

Li's experience inludes a number of roles at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and Standford University, as well as Wake Forest and Houston Medical Hospital.