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Randy Wilkening

Wilkening To Step Down as Section Head

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It is with mixed emotions that the Department of Pediatrics announces that Randy Wilkening, MD, (professor and head, Section of Neonatology; vice chair for clinical practice; chairman, Clinical Practice Committee; associate vice-chairman for Research Affairs, Perinatal Research; Department of Pediatrics) plans to step down from his role as section head pending the completion of the search for his replacement. Dr. Wilkening has served as the section head of Neonatology since 1992 – a remarkable 32-year leadership term.

Dr. Wilkening received his medical training at the University of Missouri followed by internship, residency, chief residency and fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He began his faculty career as an instructor at the department in 1977, advancing to full professor in 1993. From 1995 to 2020, he also served as an affiliate professor for the Department of Physiology at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Wilkening has been a visionary leader and critical voice in advocating for pediatrics on a global scale. He has served the department as interim chair (2005–06), vice chair for clinical affairs (since 1997), and associate vice chair for research affairs (1996–2020). He has been a member of numerous national boards of directors and foundations and has served our campus community as a member of multiple committees and advisory groups. Dr. Wilkening has also contributed to more than 100 abstracts, original articles, books, reviews and presentations, and has been awarded several grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health over his 50-year career.

As the Section Head of Neonatology, Dr. Wilkening has played an integral role in elevating the visibility and influence of the section’s clinical program across the entire state of Colorado. Under Randy’s leadership, the section has grown to be one of the largest neonatology programs in the country, consistently earning national recognition by U.S. News & World Report. His unwavering dedication and hard work have resulted in widespread recognition for the program as a top destination for research and clinical practice. Since 1992, over 90 clinical fellows have trained in the Section, most of whom remain in academic positions across the country.

Randy’s passion for fostering the next generation of physician-scientist has established an incredible legacy of scientific discovery through the section’s Perinatal Research Center. The faculty within the PRC have pioneered many critical developments in neonatal care including surfactant replacement for premature babies’ lungs, inhaled nitric oxide therapy for pulmonary hypertension, brain cooling for perinatal brain injury, and optimal nutritional strategies for low-birth-weight babies among many others. As a facility, the PRC has more than doubled in size – to 26,000 square feet – during Randy’s tenure, providing a critical research resource for advancing the section’s scientific programs. Through his outstanding financial stewardship, the section has established three endowed funds, the Frederick C. Battaglia Endowed Chair in Neonatology, the Lula O. Lubchenco, MD Endowed Chair in Neonatology, and the Giacomo Meschia, MD, Endowed Distinguished Professorship in Neonatal-Perinatal Research, which recognize the section’s significant legacy of leadership in the field.

We have already initiated the search for Dr. Wilkening’ s successor, which will be led by Robert Fuhlbrigge, MD, PhD, (professor and Section Head of Rheumatology). The search committee will begin screening candidates immediately, with the aim of selecting the next section head before the end of the calendar year.

We are incredibly grateful for Dr. Wilkening’ s remarkable contributions to the Department of Pediatrics and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Upon the identification of his successor, Randy will remain an active faculty member within the department and section.

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