UMKC appoints Kanter as new School of Medicine Dean

Steven Kanter, M.D.
Steven Kanter, M.D.

Steven L. Kanter, M.D., has been appointed dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Kanter is a neurosurgeon, a career physician-educator, and brings to UMKC a strong foundation in the growing field of medical informatics: the science of using information most effectively to improve the quality and safety of patient care; to analyze data across large blocks of patient populations to identify patterns and best practices; and to collect, analyze, and integrate complex biologic data. UMKC and its local hospital partners are home to several leading researchers in the field, and created a new Center for Health Insights focused on informatics last year to support their work. Kanter is a former Fellow in Medical Informatics for the National Library of Medicine.

Kanter comes to UMKC from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, where he has been on faculty since 1991 and Vice Dean since 2002. From 2008 to 2012, he also served as Editor-in-Chief of Academic Medicine, the Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. In 2013, he was awarded the Merrell Flair Award, the highest honor awarded by AAMC’s Group on Educational Affairs.

“I hope to focus the considerable talent and energy of the School of Medicine faculty, staff, and students on helping to make Kansas City the healthiest city in America,” Kanter said. “Of course, the best way – and the only way – to do this is to engage with business and community partners, clinical partners, alumni, and neighboring institutions.

“The UMKC School of Medicine is at a pivotal point in its history. It is completing its first half-century and looking toward the next 50 years. I am enthusiastic about beginning a process with faculty, staff, and students to contemplate in what ways the school should build on its existing strengths as it prepares to embark on this next, very important phase of its journey,” he continued. “It is a privilege to be able to serve the Kansas City community in the role of dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. I look forward to working with community members and the school’s partner institutions to ensure that we continue to bring value to the people of this region in the best possible way.”

UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton said important considerations in his decision to choose Kanter were Kanter’s background and interest in both medical informatics and interprofessional education, which involves students from two or more disciplines learning together to cultivate collaborative practice to provide patient-centered care. UMKC’s Schools of Dentistry, Pharmacy, Medicine and Nursing and Health Studies, clustered together on the university’s Hospital Hill Campus, have made interprofessional education a priority.

“Steven Kanter also has experience as a leader in community health and education initiatives at an urban-serving university at the University of Pittsburgh. Like UMKC, Pitt is situated in the urban core and recognizes and lives up to the special responsibility that confers,” Morton said. “The UMKC School of Medicine plays a vital role in the community, and I am confident that Dr. Kanter is the kind of leader who will not just preserve those vital community relationships, but grow and strengthen them.”

Lawrence Dreyfus, UMKC Vice Chancellor for Research & Economic Development, served as co-chair of the search committee that recommended Kanter.

“We were very impressed with Dr. Kanter’s background as an educator, as a researcher and as a clinician,” Dreyfus said. “It was clear that he understands the vital community role played by an urban school of medicine, and we appreciate the enthusiasm with which he seeks to embrace that role.”

Kanter will begin his work at UMKC Oct. 1. In addition to his position as dean, he is appointed as a full professor with tenure in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics and as Professor of Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine. In addition, he will hold the Merl and Muriel Hicklin Foundation Endowed Chair at the School of Medicine.

Kanter has an undergraduate degree from Texas A&I University and earned his M.D. at the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio. He served his residency at the University of Florida. He was on faculty at Texas A&M University College of Medicine before moving to the University of Pittsburgh. He is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association, the World Association of Medical Editors and the Association for Medical Education in Europe, which presented him with the Patil Award for Best Medical Education Research Presentation in 2007.

Kanter will replace Betty Drees, M.D., F.A.C.P., as dean. Drees spent 12 years leading the UMKC School of Medicine, during which she strengthened the financial position of the school, established important new partnerships with other academic units, and added new graduate and certificate programs. She will remain on faculty, and plans to work on patient safety and health policy programs as well as teaching and community service.

In addition to applying advanced technology to the practice of medicine, Kanter is also interested in applying the latest technology to instructional practice.

“Many medical schools today are struggling with what to do with classroom time, since learners can watch lectures online at their own pace and in a way that aligns with their own learning styles. The key question that underlies this struggle is not about student attendance, but rather is about how to make the learner-teacher relationship effective for students and rewarding for faculty,” he said. “The UMKC School of Medicine already has made significant strides in this area with its successful docent system.”

Kanter comes from a family immersed in medicine. His wife, Leslie M. Borsett-Kanter M.D., is a pediatrician with expertise in feeding disorders. His son, John H. Kanter, is a third-year medical student at Florida State University. His brother and sister, Roy A. Kanter M.D. and Merrill Kanter Carolin M.D., both are neurologists.

Outside of work, Kanter and his wife enjoy jazz, reading and travel, and show Cardigan Welsh Corgis competitively.

“The UMKC School of Medicine has a number of strengths that position it well for significant growth and development in the coming years,” Kanter said. “The school is situated in a vibrant city that is on the move. It has wonderful clinical partners, excellent neighboring institutions, and is part of a great university. Also, the location and layout of Hospital Hill lends itself to the kind of communication and collaboration that is so important to advancing thinking and practice in health care, research, and education. I am excited about the opportunities to develop interprofessional initiatives in both research and education.”