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Steven L. Kantor

Steven L. Kanter, MD

Prior to his assuming the role of President and CEO at the Association of Academic Health Centers in July 2018, Steven L. Kanter, MD, served as dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, where he was professor of medicine and biomedical and health informatics and he held the Merl & Muriel Hicklin/Missouri Endowed Chair in Medicine.

Dr. Kanter draws from a diverse background of experience that includes clinical medicine, medical informatics, scholarly publishing, medical school administration, and academic health center growth and development.

In 2015, Dr. Kanter led an effort that brought together 12 of Kansas City’s leading healthcare institutions to align more closely as an academic health center—the University of Missouri-Kansas City Health Sciences District. The participating institutions include an adult, acute-care hospital; a children’s hospital; a university and its four health sciences schools; a scholars’ center; a Ronald McDonald House; a city health department; a county medical examiner’s office; and a state behavioral health facility. In May 2017, the leaders of these institutions, along with city and county elected officials, signed a memorandum of understanding to create the District. The formation of the Health Sciences District will impact the University and the region, and will position Kansas City to be a major hub of healthcare innovation and discovery in the 21st century.

A former Fellow in medical informatics for the National Library of Medicine, Dr. Kanter joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1991 and became vice dean in 2002. In his role as Vice Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he brought more than $7 million in new funding to the school, and was involved in several international projects. From 2008 to 2012, he also served as editor-in-chief of Academic Medicine, the peer-reviewed journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. There, he improved the journal’s online presence, established new policies and practices that brought the journal to the forefront of publication ethics, and introduced several new features.

Dr. Kanter earned his undergraduate degree from Texas A&I University and his MD at the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio. He served his neurosurgical residency at the University of Florida and was a member of the faculty of Texas A&M University College of Medicine before moving to the University of Pittsburgh. He is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association and the Association for Medical Education in Europe, which presented him with the Patil Award for best research presentation in 2007. Dr. Kanter’s contributions reflect a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience with medical school, teaching hospital, university, and academic health center issues.

Dr. Kanter is married to Leslie Borsett-Kanter, MD, a pediatrician with special expertise in the treatment of feeding disorders. They have one son, John, who is a neurosurgery resident at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and two show dogs (Cardigan Welsh Corgis) named Harry and Lily.


The Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC) recently celebrated 50 years of convening thought leaders, sharing best practices, and catalyzing the diffusion of innovation. Inspirational leadership and effective management of academic health centers have been the central concerns of AAHC throughout its first half-century. The organization’s programs, initiatives, and publications are testimony to the important work of AAHC and its members in advancing healthcare, accelerating biomedical research, and cultivating the next generation of health professionals.

Academic health centers in the United States began a period of significant growth after World War II. By the mid-1950s, leaders at these institutions recognized that they were working in a new model of health professions education, biomedical research, and patient care, and that management of the whole was more encompassing and more complex than the sum of managing each of the parts.

The leaders of these broad-based institutions recognized the need to form an organization to foster deliberation on the high-level issues and challenges facing academic health centers, to share concerns, and to define solutions. In 1956, a group of 17 visionary leaders convened as the University Medical Administrative Group. The group met on a regular, but informal, basis until 1969, when it was formally incorporated as The Organization of University Health Center Administrators, Inc. The organization soon changed its name to the Association of Academic Health Centers and established an office in Washington, DC.

Fifty years hence, AAHC, and its 11-year old international division, the Association of Academic Health Centers International (AAHCI), offer premier programming for the executive leadership of academic health centers worldwide. As found on the pages of our Annual Report, AAHC/I supports leaders in academic health with key publications, formal and informal consultation, information resources, and advocacy on selected issues, and regularly introduces new initiatives to increase the capacity of those leaders to respond to urgent priorities, including large-scale crisis management.

As the Association enters its second 50 years, it will continue to focus on the fundamental and unique value of academic health centers – that is, the ability to harness the power at the nexus of research, education, and healthcare in service to the human condition. Catalyzing thought leadership, with a special emphasis on horizon scanning, will be a core guiding value as AAHC works with its members. The Association will continually hone its ability to detect the emergence of novel ideas, looming challenges, and new opportunities.

Academic health centers are more important today than ever before. Collectively, in the last decade alone, they have generated advances in biomedical science that have revealed more about the human body than has been learned in all of history theretofore. And that has enabled a broad range of healthcare professionals, educated at these distinguished institutions, to do more for patients today than ever before, in every area of medicine. Progress has been nothing short of astounding and there never has been a better time to pursue a career in the health sciences or the health professions.

Of course, this remarkable progress comes with daunting challenges that, in turn, reveal new opportunities. There is no institution anywhere in the world that is better organized and better equipped than an academic health center to confront these challenges and pursue these opportunities. Joining patient care with research and education creates remarkably fertile ground that has the potential to yield the next scientific insight, the next paradigm shift, or the next disruptive innovation.

Furthermore, when academic health centers act collectively, there is an exponential increase in their power to improve the human condition. That is why AAHC will continue to be a catalyst for thought leadership, a forum for confidential peer-to-peer networking and discourse, and a venue for forward-thinking, progressive, and solution-focused ideas.

Fifty years ago, united by the belief that academic health centers can do more together than any one of them can do alone, a small group of visionary leaders created AAHC. That belief drives our work today.

Steven L. Kanter, MD