A national thought leader in health systems science has joined the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) to lead its curricular and educational programs. Jed Gonzalo has assumed the position of senior associate dean for medical education after serving 10 years in progressive educational leadership roles at the Penn State College of Medicine.

Gonzalo succeeds the late Rick Vari, who led the development of the school’s innovative problem-based learning curriculum for 13 years before retiring last year.

Widely known as a leader in the concept and practice of health systems science (HSS), Gonzalo spoke at VTCSOM in February 2020 when the school was developing plans to redesign its interprofessionalism curricular domain as health systems science and interprofessional practice. The change was made to give students a strong grounding in how health care is delivered and how to optimize the quality of health care for patients and populations.

“We were so impressed with Jed,” said Lee Learman, dean of the medical school. “After several meetings and presentations, it was clear that he was working at a very high level of visioning and had an amazing ability to connect the various aspects of HSS in a holistic way and at a systems level. We knew we had met a rising star in medical education.”

At Penn State, Gonzalo’s contributions spanned strategic planning, curriculum development, teaching, clinical site development, and accreditation preparation. He has directed courses across all phases of the curriculum, provided oversight of all clerkships, and led multiple teams focused on education and curriculum leadership.

“I am beyond excited to be taking this role,” Gonzalo said. “During my visits and in meetings with faculty and students, the passion and engagement in medical education at VTCSOM is so evident. I’m really looking forward to becoming part of the VTCSOM community and being part of the next phase of the medical school.”


Man, woman, and three children  smiling and standing in front of the Roanoke City Market building.
Jed Gonzalo and family - wife, Tiffany, and children Sam, Eleanor, and Caroline - enjoy a day at the Roanoke City Market. Photo courtesy of Jed Gonzalo.

“Jed’s an accomplished national leader in health systems science. This new role that will enable him to lead innovations across the full continuum of medical education,” Learman said.

Gonzalo earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Scranton and his medical degree from the Penn State College of Medicine. While in medical school, he was inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and was voted “classmate you would most want as your physician.” He completed his residency and chief residency at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a fellowship in internal medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

As associate dean for health systems education at Penn State, Gonzalo’s work led to the development and implementation of more than 20 curricular innovations. One, the Patient Navigation Program, was the first in the U.S. to link medical students with patients to achieve better health outcomes and to date has improved the health experience of more than 6,000 patients.

Gonzalo has a $3 million research portfolio, is a prolific publisher having authored five textbooks, and has won numerous awards for excellence in medical education.

“Colleagues from other medical schools have congratulated us on our success recruiting Jed.  We are delighted the he was attracted to our innovative curriculum, learning environment, and partnerships that have defined the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine since its inception. The prospect of raising his children in Roanoke was also a major factor,” Learman said.  

Gonzalo said the synergy of the medical school, along with Carilion Clinic, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, Virginia Tech, and the Roanoke community sets the stage for future long-term success.

“It’s hard to overestimate the potential of all these stakeholders in contributing to the medical school’s goals and vision,” he said.

Some of the topics Gonzalo plans to focus on initially include ideal classroom teaching methods, competencies across all four years of medical school and residency and coaching for students to develop needed skills. But more importantly, he hopes to start by meeting as many people as possible and gaining a better understanding of the culture and the people.

Learman said after the brief illness and tragic passing of Vari last June, members of the VTCSOM community are ready to move forward, ever-mindful of his contributions and lasting legacy at the school.

“Rick had a lovely personality and humanistic nature,” Learman said. “He was an educator, a bridge builder, and an outstanding leader. Jed is an educator who has decided to use his talents to make a difference as a medical education administrator. Like Rick, he has a brilliant mind, a strong moral compass, and a devotion to his family. He will be a good cultural fit and will bring relationship-centered approaches to innovation and leadership.”

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