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Smithsonian Secretary Joins Georgetown as Distinguished Professor

September 15, 2015 – The Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution David Skorton and his wife, Robin Davisson, a molecular physiologist, have joined the Georgetown community.

Skorton, a board-certified cardiologist and former president of Cornell University, became Secretary of the Smithsonian this past July. He also will serve as a Distinguished Professor at Georgetown.

Davisson, who is concluding her tenure as the Andrew Dickson White Professor of Molecular Physiology at Cornell and as a researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan, will serve as an adjunct professor on the research track at Georgetown University Medical Center.

She also will become president and CEO-elect of the Washington, D.C.-based Melanoma Research Alliance Oct. 1.

Nuanced Understanding

At Georgetown, the leader of the storied Smithsonian Institution will participate in seminars and give guest lectures.

“Secretary Skorton and Dr. Davisson are experienced and recognized leaders who possess a nuanced understanding of some of today’s most important issues in higher education and research,” said President John J. DeGioia. “We are so pleased to welcome them to our Georgetown community and look forward to the many ways they will strengthen our university as they share their expertise with us.” 

Skorton served as president of Cornell from 2006 until this past July. He is a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College and in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering.

The first physician to lead the Smithsonian, Skorton’s research focuses on congenital heart disease and cardiac imaging and image processing. Davisson’s research focuses on the basic mechanisms of function, control and signaling in the cardiovascular system in health and disease.

Revered Institutions

“I have served in education my entire professional life,” Skorton said. “I am grateful for this rare opportunity to come to the nation’s capital to serve as Secretary of the Smithsonian, an extraordinary global asset, and also to be affiliated with a revered institution of higher learning. I look forward to engaging with the students, faculty and staff at Georgetown.” 

Skorton earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and his medical degree from Northwestern University. He completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1979.

An amateur jazz musician, Skorton plays the saxophone and flute.

Davisson earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and her doctorate in pharmacology from the University of Iowa. She completed a four-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Iowa Cardiovascular Research Center and the Center for Hypertension Genomics.

“I am extremely honored to be affiliated with the Georgetown University Medical Center,” Davisson said. “I look forward to contributing to the outstanding hypertension research at Georgetown and participating in mentoring trainees and young investigators in this field.”

“I will be joining a number of longtime colleagues and collaborators,” she added, “which makes this new chapter even more exciting for me.”