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Today, Alice L. Walton School of Medicine announced the appointment of Sharmila Makhija MD MBA as the Founding Dean and Chief Executive Officer, effective May 2023. In her new role, Dr. Makhija, will work with health systems and institutional partners to enhance medical education and prepare students for their future health care roles.
Founded in 2021 and seeking accreditation, Alice L. Walton School of Medicine will offer a four-year medical degree program that builds upon an evidence-based curriculum and integrates a compassionate, inclusive, and whole health approach to care for not only patients, but also students, faculty, and staff. The 154,000 square-foot medical education building will be located on the campus of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Pending programmatic accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the School plans to welcome the first class of students in 2025.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Makhija to the team,” said School of Medicine Founder, Alice Walton. “Her background and commitment to medical education will advance our work in equipping physicians to tackle challenges of the 21st century by focusing on the physical, mental, social, and emotional health of the people and communities we serve.”
Dr. Makhija’s expertise spans academic, clinical, and business settings and she utilizes a collaborative approach across the health care delivery system. She is a surgeon and women’s health expert, most recently served as Department Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health, professor of gynecologic oncology, and held the Chella and Moise Safra Endowed Chair at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System.
“The opportunity to build a medical school from the ground up, with the vision of philanthropist Alice Walton, is a dream come true,” said Dr. Makhija. “Health care delivery is fractured and in need of transformation so that all Americans can have access to the respectful care they deserve. Training the doctors of the future, within a culture of diversity and inclusivity, is central to that transformation. Our goal is to build a new medical school and be a leader in improving health and wellness. I can’t wait to meet the wonderful community of Northwest Arkansas and get started!”
An international expert on gynecologic cancer, Sharmila Makhija MD, MBA has held faculty positions at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Emory University, and the University of Louisville.
Dr. Makhija was named a Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Scholar at University of Pittsburgh; she continued as a WRHR Scholar at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she served as a tenured associate professor and received the Argus Teaching Award from the medical school. At Emory University, Dr. Makhija was Division Chief of gynecologic oncology and the Leach Endowed Chair in obstetrics and gynecology. She was also named a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar. At the University of Louisville School of Medicine, she served as Department Chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health; tenured professor of gynecologic oncology; Donald E. Baxter Endowed Chair in obstetrics and gynecology; and Chief Medical and Operations Officer for the Center for Women and Infants.
Dr. Makhija earned her Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Cornell University and a medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Louisville Hospital and a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She received her executive MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.
She is a Board member and Chair of the Impact Committee for Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit founded by Christy Turlington Burns focused on improving maternal health care. She is the Associate Editor-in-Chief of a peer-reviewed Journal of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. Dr. Makhija has received numerous awards for her dedication to women’s health, including the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Spirit of Achievement, Good Housekeeping Humanitarian Hero, a Crain’s NY Business Notable Health Care Leader, and an AAPI Health care Hero Honoree. Read her full bio HERE.