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Pitt's Historic Impact

A Visionary With a Keen Eye for Talent


Thomas P. Detre left Yale University to come to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1973. By his retirement in 2004, Detre had helped to transform the school and UPMC into titans.

"Tom Detre laid the groundwork to build a nationally ranked and internationally respected School of Medicine, as well as a global health enterprise that is second to none,” said UPMC President and CEO Jeffrey Romoff, following Detre's death in 2010. “He was an extraordinary clinician and researcher whose keen eye for talent and readiness to foster innovation led to the University and medical center recruitment of many gifted individuals who have redefined medical practice and helped innumerable people around the world.”

Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said Detre’s leadership in bringing world-class medicine and pioneering research to Western Pennsylvania "transformed the character and culture of this region. His impact—in advancing the cause of human health and in enhancing the reputation, quality of life, and economic strength of Pittsburgh, a city that he loved—was enormous. In addition to his legendary record of professional achievement and impact, Tom was beloved for his kindness, compassion, wit, and old-world charm."

Detre came to Pitt as director of Western Pennsylvania Institute and Clinic. In the ensuing decades, he led Pitt's Medical and Health Care Division and served as Pitt's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences, interim dean of the School of Medicine, and president of UPMC. He was a master at making sure those he recruited worked together.

"Dr. Detre knew how to do things on an interdisciplinary basis when nobody was even talking about interdisciplinary," said former Pitt Department of Medicine chair Gerald Levey.