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SUNY Upstate's new pediatric chairman announces plans to bring comprehensive Children's Center to Central New York

The development of a comprehensive Children's Center for Central New York will be a top priority of SUNY Upstate's newly appointed pediatrics chairman, Thomas R. Welch, M.D., SUNY Upstate Medical University officials announced today.

Welch, who served as director of nephrology and hypertension at the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati and a professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, has been named professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University. The appointment was announced by Michael Roizen, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for biomedical sciences at SUNY Upstate.

"We are pleased to have Dr. Welch join SUNY Upstate," said SUNY Upstate President Gregory L. Eastwood, M.D. "He brings an impressive record of accomplishment in teaching, research, clinical service and administration and is just the right person to lead our Department of Pediatrics to national prominence."

Roizen sees the recruitment of Welch back to Central New York as a major coup for SUNY Upstate Medical University and the Central New York community.

"Tom Welch is one of the best pediatricians in the world available to lead our pediatrics department," Roizen said. "He sees the future of pediatric care in Central New York reaching 'world class' stature. This will be a challenge, but a tremendous opportunity to make Central New York the hub of health care for children. For this to happen, financial resources, physicians, patients, politicians and health care institutions in the region must come together with the ambition and resolve to bring the best of care for our children into on pediatric pavilion or site."

Roizen continued, "At Upstate's University Hospital, we have more than a foundation in place to build upon. The challenge will be to bring those of like minds and unselfish intent together in order for the best in children's health care to become a reality. Our children deserve it, but our citizens must demand it from all of us involved. The economic, social and health care benefits of such an effort are significant and beyond anything that exists today.

"Dr. Welch will serve as a formidable advocate for consolidation of current community resources and as an organizer to drive new resources to our community where excellence in children's health care will be one of our greatest assets."

Welch, who served as a Fellow in Pediatric Nephrology at SUNY Upstate from January 1981 to December 1982, said the development of a comprehensive Children's Center would strengthen and enhance the pediatric services available to all children. "In addition, a Children's Center in Central New York would play a major role in carrying out cutting-edge research on finding cures for what makes our children sick and how to make them well."

As chairman, Welch oversees a department of more than 40 physicians, who are also SUNY Upstate faculty. Physicians treat nearly 40,000 infants, children and adolescents each year, in such pediatric specialties as cardiology, pulmonary medicine, hematology/oncology and critical care. Another 15,000 patients are treated in Central New York's only pediatric emergency department.

"University Hospital has an outstanding pediatrics department that will only grow stronger and more committed to serving the community through its participation in a comprehensive children's center," Welch said.

Earlier discussions with pediatricians throughout the region have been positive on the subject of a children's center. "There appears to be widespread agreement on the benefits and the need for a children's center," Welch said. "We now have to take that support and meld it into action so that we can truly benefit the families of Central New York. We continue to encourage our logical partners in this effort to come to the table and work with us to make this an extraordinary community resource."

As his first assignment, Welch has conducted a wide-ranging review of the pediatric services currently offered by University Hospital. "This will be the perfect opportunity for us to lay a solid foundation for the future of a children's center," he said.

Welch's appointment to the faculty at SUNY Upstate is a homecoming of sorts. A native of Herkimer, N.Y., Welch was a pediatrician at Herkimer Memorial Hospital from 1976 to 1982 and served as medical staff president there from 1979 to 1981. He also served as clinical instructor from 1976 to 1982 at SUNY Health Science Center, now known as SUNY Upstate Medical University. Welch joined the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati in 1983.

Welch has been honored as both an educator and a physician. Residents at Children's Hospital Medical Center selected him to receive the 1990 Resident Training Award. He was honored with an endowed professorship, the Louise M. Williams Professorship in Pediatrics in 1994, and received the Mead Johnson Excellence in Teaching Award in 1998. Welch is also listed in the "Best Doctors in America" (4th edition, 1998).

Welch is a member of numerous medical associations and societies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Pediatric Research and the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology.

Welch's research interests, including glomerulonephritis and nephrotic syndrome and metabolic bone disorders, have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, American Lupus Society and the March of Dimes.

He has published more than 70 articles, in such prestigious publications as the Journal of Pediatrics, Journal of Clinical Investigation and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Welch earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1969 and his doctor of medicine degree from McGill University in 1973.