I am writing today to share that one of our most accomplished and inspirational leaders—Peter L. Slavin, MD, President, Massachusetts General Hospital (Mass General)—has informed me that he intends to step down after 18 years in this role. Characteristic of this extraordinary leader, Peter explained in his quiet, confident way that the time was right—right for him and right for Mass General—to make this difficult decision and initiate a transition process. The hospital he has led for nearly two decades is strong and vibrant and flourishing, poised to begin new projects and initiatives as we head into the future. Peter felt that this was the right time to bring in new leadership to carry our work forward, shaping and guiding Mass General as a vital anchor for the world-class system we are building together.
Peter’s achievements at the helm of Mass General have been nothing short of remarkable. As someone who has worked with Peter for many years, I know firsthand of his thoughtful and compassionate style, his knowledgeable thinking and his warm heart, all of which have defined his leadership. He has achieved exceptional success across all indicators, rivaling—and in most cases surpassing—any of the top academic institutions across the globe. Massachusetts General Hospital and in turn, Mass General Brigham are better today because of the deep and lasting imprint Peter Slavin has made on so many.
Committed to the best clinical care for patients, Peter has fostered a culture that empowers the brightest minds to search for innovative ways to help each patient who looks to Mass General. He understands that care is truly excellent only when it is framed by kindness and compassion, and he embodies and models these traits every day. Peter speaks with such pride when he tells stories about Mass General—the resolve and courage of a nurse taking care of a critically ill COVID-19 patient, a letter from a grateful family whose child was cured. It is this consistently exceptional care that enabled Mass General in 2003 to become the first Magnet-designated hospital in the state. It is this care that has resulted in Mass General each year receiving high accolades from U.S. News & World Report, the only hospital recognized in all 16 specialties. Peter has supported a range of new and expanded clinical programs to meet patient needs, from the Lurie Center for Autism, to the Transgender Health Program, to the new Gordon-Browne Proton Therapy Center, to a multifaceted Substance Use Disorders Initiative.
Peter’s commitment to research has been extraordinary. Mass General has grown into a scientific powerhouse, with more than $1 billion in research expenditures, more than double the $400 million research program that existed when Peter began as president in 2003. Year after year, Mass General has held the distinction of being the largest hospital recipient of National Institutes of Health funding. During Peter’s tenure the hospital established the Mass General Research Institute to serve as a front door for science, and today it comprises more than 9,500 members, including 2,000 principal investigators, spanning more than 30 clinical departments, programs and centers.
To provide a glimpse into a few of the research centers and programs that have emerged on Peter’s watch, in 2009, Mass General established the Ragon Institute to harness the enormous potential of the immune system to prevent and cure disease. The Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies in 2012 was launched to speed the discovery of new cancer therapies, and the 18-bed Translational and Clinical Research Center opened in 2016 to test promising treatments for a range of adult and pediatric disorders. In 2018, the Sean M. Healey and AMG Center for ALS was established to search for novel therapies for this devastating neurodegenerative disease. In 2016, to explore innovative uses for artificial intelligence in health care, Mass General, together with Brigham and Women's Hospital, started the Center for Clinical Data Science. These efforts in basic, clinical and translational research have driven new and improved treatments—and offered hope—for patients locally, nationally and around the world.
Perhaps Peter’s most enduring legacy will be his success in advancing Mass General’s work in community health, and promoting a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion across Mass General and the broader community. A passionate advocate for social justice and fairness, Peter expanded the hospital’s mission to formally incorporate its long-held commitment to improving the health of its communities as the fourth pillar. In 2005, the Mass General launched the Disparities Solutions Center, a first-of-its-kind effort aimed at eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health. In addition, programs as far reaching as the Center for Gun Violence Prevention, the Youth Scholars Program, and the Immigrant and Refugee Health initiative have flourished with Peter’s support. Indicative of the success of these collective efforts, Mass General in the past decade received three of the most prestigious national awards to recognize community health and equity: the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Engagement from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Foster G. McGaw Award for efforts to improve health and well-being from the American Hospital Association, and the AHA’s inaugural Equity of Care Award.
The Slavin era will be remembered as a time of significant growth and expansion for Mass General. The hospital’s total revenue nearly tripled to $5.5 billion and annual fundraising grew from $72 million to $390 million. In 2003, Mass General had just under 15,000 employees, and today there are more than 27,000. The main campus was modernized and improved with the addition of the Yawkey Building in 2004, the Lunder Building in 2011 and the Russell Museum in 2012. Peter welcomed Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket Cottage, Cooley Dickinson and Wentworth-Douglass hospitals to Mass General. In addition, Mass General opened outpatient centers in Waltham and Danvers to bring excellent care and services into the suburbs during this time.
Additionally, Peter’s leadership and impact extended beyond Mass General. In 2019, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Peter also served as board chair of the Massachusetts Hospital Association from 2012-2013 and as board chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges from 2014-2015.
Finally, on a personal note, I have known Peter well for many years. I have always admired his ability to lead with compassion and sincerity and relied on his advice, support and friendship. I am deeply grateful for everything he has done through his leadership to make such a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of patients and families. Through his work, his priorities and his example he has steadily and gently guided the hospital he loves into a kinder, stronger and more inclusive place.
I am truly grateful that Peter has remained firmly at the helm of Mass General throughout the pandemic, and I thank him for agreeing to stay on as president as I start the search and until a permanent successor is chosen and in place. The search process will be aligned with the Mass General Brigham United Against Racism priority and include a diverse search committee and slate of candidates for consideration. Our leadership toward ensuring the most equitable and diverse environment—for our patients and colleagues across the system—will be the very foundation for our success as a premier healthcare provider nationally and internationally.
Please join me in congratulating Peter on his spectacular career at Mass General. We will miss him enormously when he steps down, but we know that his extraordinary impact—his legacy—is already etched into the foundation of Massachusetts General Hospital.
Anne Klibanksi, MD
President and Chief Executive Officer, Mass General Brigham