Robert N. Golden, MD
Robert Turell Professor in Medical Leadership
Dean, School of Medicine and Public Health
Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs
Robert N. Golden, MD, received his bachelor of arts degree cum laude with honors in psychology from Yale University in 1975, and his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine in 1979.
He completed an internship, residency and chief residency in psychiatry at the University of North Carolina (UNC).
From 1983 to 1985, Golden was a medical staff (research) fellow in the Clinical Pharmacology Section of the National Institute of Mental Health Intramural Research Program.
He returned to the UNC School of Medicine in 1985, where he served as the founding director of both the Clinical Psychobiology/Pharmacology Research Training Program and the ECT Service, and as associate director of both the General Clinical Research Center and the Mental Health Clinical Research Center.
From 1994 through 2005, Golden served as chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine. During his tenure, the department grew to include 85 full-time faculty, 62 residents and an annual budget of nearly $47 million. Since 1994, the department’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) research portfolio grew from approximately $3 million to more than $29 million, placing it in the top 10 psychiatry departments in terms of NIH competitive awards.
In 2004, Golden assumed the additional role of vice dean for the UNC School of Medicine, with responsibilities for the school’s research and educational programs, faculty development and academic affairs, and Area Health Education Centers.
In July 2006, Golden became the ninth dean of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the University of Wisconsin-Madison vice chancellor for medical affairs. He also holds an appointment as a professor in the Department of Psychiatry.
Golden's research and clinical interests are focused on psychobiological and psychopharmacologic aspects of mood and anxiety disorders. He has published more than 175 papers and chapters and more than 185 research abstracts. He has served on several editorial boards, review panels and advisory committees, and as field editor for Clinical Psychobiology for Neuropsychopharmacology. He is currently associate editor for Psychosomatic Medicine.
He has been selected as a Ginsburg Fellow of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, a Laughlin Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists and a Jefferson Pilot Fellow in Academic Medicine; received the 2003 Mood Disorders Research Award from the American College of Psychiatrists and the 1993 Eugene Hargrove Mental Health Research Award; was appointed as the inaugural Stuart Bondurant Distinguished Professor at the UNC at Chapel Hill; and for several years has been listed in The Best Doctors in America and Who’s Who in the World.
Q: What do you foresee as the UW School of Medicine and Public Health's place in health care and medical education?
A: The next three to five years will set the stage for the next century. We are just beginning to embark on an unbelievably exciting experience to integrate the strong tradition of medicine with the power of public health. We are creating the first ever model of having medicine and public health under one roof in a single school. This will set the stage for further acceleration of the Wisconsin Idea, what has been in our genome since our inception as a school 100 years ago.
Through this new integrative model our ambition is enormous. We want to improve the health of everyone in the state of Wisconsin, and by example help the entire country to move forward in not only diagnosing and treating diseases but preventing diseases and promoting health as well.
Q: Can you talk about the importance of integrating medicine and public health?
A: I think the integration of medicine and public health is extremely important. When those two approaches are separated by silos, there are missed opportunities for synergies and for collaborations and for whole new perspectives on complex topics ranging from cancer to obesity. If one only looks, like the proverbial blind man and the elephant, at one part of the animal, one cannot get a conceptualization of the whole.
Bringing together rather than keeping separate these powerful disciplines is really important. We are most fortunate to be embedded in an incredibly strong university. We are most fortunate to be geographically located literally next door to our partners in pharmacy, literally in the same building with our partners in nursing, and with all of the other components of the university literally at our doorstep.
We are in a position to not only integrate medicine and public health but to do it in the context of a university that is strong in so many relevant areas and has a tradition of collaboration and cooperation.
Q: We have heard a lot about translational research of late. Can you explain what that is?
A: Translational research is used in a couple of different ways. It includes translating ideas from the laboratory to the bedside for clinical studies and patients. It also includes translating from those small-scale clinical studies in small groups of patients into larger population-based research.
The translation, though, should be a two-way street. It also means that the research questions we attack in the laboratory should be informed by the issues and the needs in the communities and in larger populations. Also, when we talk about translation, we refer to breaking down the difference between what we already know and what is actually happening in the real world.
Already we have identified safe and effective treatments for many conditions and yet those safe and effective treatments are not always accepted by patients or not always offered by their doctors. So translational research also involves studying the causes and removing the causes of this gap between what we know is the best current approach and what is actually being done by real doctors and real patients in the real world.
Q: What is UW's place in modern medical education, now and in the future?
A: I think our place will be at the very top, as the leading school of medicine and public health. I think we have a very unique opportunity, because of all the factors we've been discussing, to really create an entire new model of education that will lead to the training of a new type of doctor. A doctor who knows how to take the pulse of the community as well as the pulse of a patient. A doctor who is trained not only to think about microbiological systems and organ systems but also health care delivery systems. A doctor who is prepared not only to take care of her patients but also advocate for the needs of the patients in the schools, in the communities, in the broader environment in which they live.
That new model is going to make a difference in the health of the people of Wisconsin, but it's also going to put us at the forefront, leading the way for the rest of the country and probably the rest of the world.