U. of Iowa radiology head steps down

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Embattled University of Iowa radiology department head Laurie L. Fajardo, MD, MBA will be stepping down from her position effective Jan. 1, but will remain a faculty member.

Fajardo, an expert on breast imaging, asked for the change in order to spend more time on research, according to a university spokesman.

University of Iowa officials will conduct a national search for a permanent replacement, but in the meantime, Edmund Franken, Jr., MD, will take over as acting department chairman. Franken is a professor emeritus and former radiology department chairman.

Fajardo had been department chairwoman since 2002.

The resignation comes after a tumultuous year for Fajardo, who had been criticized in a recently released department review and is the defendant in a civil rights lawsuit filed by Malik E. Juweid, MD, a tenured member of the radiology department who has been on leave since January.

The department review blamed Fajardo for low department morale and characterized her as an ineffective leader.

“Dr. Fajardo is widely considered a weak and ineffective advocate for the department, an uninvolved mentor and a poor recruiter,” wrote the authors of the review. “This has contributed to the low morale that appears to affect most faculty members including all ranks and tracks. Beyond low morale, the faculty members believe they are overworked, underappreciated and undercompensated.”

Juweid’s lawsuit alleges that Fajardo made racist comments toward him and colleagues, including calling Juweid an “academic terrorist.”