Dr. James Dalen, cardiologist, beloved emeritus vice president of the University of Arizona Health Sciences, leading advocate to establish the Zuckerman College of Public Health, and transformative health leader for Arizona, passed away in January 2024.
It is with great sadness that we share the news that James E. Dalen, MD, MPH, ScD (hon), Master FCCP, cardiologist and beloved emeritus vice president of the University of Arizona Health Sciences, died on Tuesday, January 16, 2024.
Dr. Dalen cared deeply about the health of our communities in Arizona and he dedicated much of his life working to improve health for all. He saw the vital need for health promotion and public health programs, and in 1997, as Vice President of the Arizona Health Sciences Center, Dr. Dalen inspired Mel Zuckerman to invest $10M to establish the only college of public health in Arizona and the Southwest.
Throughout his leadership of the UArizona Health Sciences, Dr. Dalen emphasized the critical need for health promotion and disease prevention in Arizona. He understood that many of our state’s pressing health concerns stem largely from poor health behaviors, and that public health programs save lives. We are forever grateful to Dr. Dalen for his vision and advocacy that launched the Zuckerman College of Public Health and ultimately empowered all of us in the college to pursue our mission to promote public health, wellness, and health equity through excellence in education, research, and service.
Dr. Dalen and his wife Priscilla established the James E. Dalen, MD, MPH Distinguished Lecture for Health Policy in 2008 to honor Dr. Dalen’s many lifelong contributions to the advancement of the University of Arizona Health Sciences and his key role in establishing the Zuckerman College of Public Health. The annual lecture in his name is designed to raise awareness of public health challenges and introduce our campus community to emerging ideas and policy issues advanced by leading experts in public health research and practice. Planning is underway for the next Dalen Lecture in May of this year.
A Transformative Leader
Dr. Dalen, 91 at the time of his passing, was a transformative leader for the University of Arizona Health Sciences and for health in the State of Arizona. As the sixth Dean of the UArizona College of Medicine from 1988 to 2001 and the Vice President for UArizona Health Sciences from 1995 to 2001, Dr. Dalen oversaw substantial growth and change. During his tenure as dean and vice president, UArizona Health Sciences and the College of Medicine saw unprecedented growth and expansion in their core mission areas of education, research and patient care. Dr. Dalen was the visionary behind the establishment of UArizona’s School of Public Health, now known as the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. He is also credited as being a driving force behind the creation of College of Medicine’s Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, the Arizona Telemedicine Program, the Steele Children’s Research Center, and the expansion of the Sarver Heart Center, the Arizona Arthritis Center, and the Arizona Cancer Center.
Dr. Dalen received his medical degree from the University of Washington and completed residency training in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital and the New England Medical Center. After completing a cardiology fellowship at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, he served for eight years as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. He then became chair of cardiovascular medicine and later, chair of the Department of Medicine, at the University of Massachusetts, where he served until joining the College of Medicine – Tucson in 1988.
Dr. Dalen served as editor of prestigious medical journals and was the author or co-author of more than 350 publications and 11 books and monographs. His many professional appointments include serving as president of the American College of Chest Physicians, governor of the American College of Cardiology and American College of Physicians, and a valued contributor to other prestigious societies.
A renowned cardiologist and visionary leader, Dr. Dalen was an outspoken advocate for health care reform, rural health, and gender equity in medicine throughout his career. His contributions to medicine and public health are widely recognized with awards from UArizona and other academic institutions, professional societies and medical journals.
The impact of Jim’s work is deeply embedded in the essence of our college, and we will forever remember and appreciate his contributions with gratitude and respect.
In 2008, the Zuckerman College of Public Health established the James E. Dalen Distinguished Lecture for Health Policy to honor Dr. Dalen for his role in establishing the college, and for his lifelong contributions to the advancement of UArizona. In 2012, he received the Herbert K. Abrams, MD, Award from the College of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine for his lifetime commitment to public health and social justice. In 2015, he received the Bravewell Distinguished Service Award from the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health for his role as a founder of the consortium and the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at UArizona. In 2000, the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) recognized Dr. Dalen with its highest honor, the ACCP Master Fellow award.
Due to Dr. Dalen’s dedication and persistence in education, research, and patient care, his memory will be long lived through the College of Public Health and College of Medicine at the University of Arizona. Dr. Dalen is survived by his wife Priscilla, his son James Jr., his daughter Angela, and all the other lives he touched on his journey through life.
“The impact of Jim’s work is deeply embedded in the essence of our college, and we will forever remember and appreciate his contributions with gratitude and respect. His absence will be keenly felt, but the memories of his joy and camaraderie will endure.” said Iman Hakim, MD, PhD, MPH, dean of the Zuckerman College of Public Health.