Pioneering Surgeon, Researcher and Educator Named CEO

Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, former vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California Davis (UC Davis), will be the new chief executive officer (CEO) of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Julie Ann Freischlag, MDFreischlag (pronounced FRY-shlog) will begin her duties on May 1, succeeding CEO John D. McConnell, MD, who last year announced that he would transition to a new position at the Medical Center, after leading it since 2008.

As CEO, Freischlag will oversee the full scope of Wake Forest Baptist’s academic health system, which includes Wake Forest School of Medicine, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Wake Forest Innovations, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, and a network of hospitals, physician practices and medical/surgical services. The CEO reports to the Medical Center’s board of directors.

Freischlag, 62, most recently directed UC Davis’ academic, research and clinical programs, which include a 627-bed acute care hospital, a 1,000 physician private practice group, a school of nursing and a staff of 10,000 employees.

Nathan Hatch, PhD, president of Wake Forest University, who co-chaired the CEO search with Wake Forest Baptist board member Art Gibel, said Freischlag possesses the full range of academic medical experience and clinical expertise to guide Wake Forest Baptist.

“Julie has devoted her career to improving the health of her patients, which coincides with our mission,” Hatch said. “In addition to her superb professional abilities, Julie is well known and widely respected within the field as a collaborator, a mentor and a strong community leader. We are very fortunate that she has chosen to join us.”

Steve Robertson, chairman of Wake Forest Baptist’s board of directors, offered praise for the many accomplishments led by McConnell during his tenure as CEO.

“We are also very grateful to John for his vision and leadership of Wake Forest Baptist over these past eight-plus years,” Robertson said. “As the first-ever CEO of the integrated medical center, John has been a trail blazer and made it ready for this smooth transition to Julie as our next CEO.”

As a vascular surgeon with 30 years of experience at top academic medical centers, Freischlag is nationally recognized as a leader in the advancement of medical education and training, the expansion of research opportunities and the improvement in patient and family-centered care.

She is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine, considered the highest recognition of professional achievement and commitment to volunteer service in medicine, as determined by her peers through election.

Before moving to UC Davis, Freischlag was the first woman to serve as chair of the department of surgery and surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Medicine. She also was professor and chief of vascular surgery at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

She received an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Illinois, her medical degree from Rush University Medical College in Chicago and completed a surgical residency and vascular fellowship at UCLA.