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UAMS selects new regional programs, AHECs leader

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Mark Mengel, M.D., M.P.H., will succeed Charles Cranford, D.D.S, as vice chancellor for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Regional Programs and executive director of the UAMS Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program.

Mengel, who has served as professor and chair of the Department of Community and Family Medicine at the St. Louis University School of Medicine since 2000, will take over the UAMS post Jan. 1. Cranford is stepping down but will remain with UAMS part time. Cranford announced his intention to retire more than two years ago. He formally submitted his request in 2006 when a search committee to find a replacement was formed.

“The AHECs serve one of UAMS' most vital missions – to reach out to rural Arkansas with the best care and medical education opportunities available, so we needed a medical leader of Dr. Mengel's caliber,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “Over the last 22 years, Dr. Cranford has made our AHEC program the envy of the country, and we expect that Dr. Mengel will continue to build on this foundation.”

Mengel inherits a program that includes seven established AHECs, and facilities are being constructed to house an eighth AHEC shared by Batesville and Mountain Home, called AHEC North Central.

UAMS Regional Programs includes the AHECs and the Rural Hospital Program. The Rural Hospital Program partners UAMS with more than 50 hospitals through an affiliation of shared resources.

Mengel is a member the East Central Missouri AHEC Board of Directors. He received his medical degree in family medicine from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Public Health from the University of Washington in Seattle. He also received a Master of Medical Management from Tulane University in New Orleans.

Mengel completed residency training in family practice at Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Wash., a residency in family practice in Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine, and a residency in preventive medicine and a Robert Wood Johnson Faculty Development Fellowship at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Cranford joined UAMS in 1985 to oversee the AHEC program and the following year was instrumental in obtaining the first federal funding for the AHECs. Other UAMS AHECs are in El Dorado, Fayetteville/Springdale, Fort Smith, Helena/West Memphis, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Texarkana. The AHECs serve as clinical education sites for students in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and various allied health professions, as well as for residents specializing in family medicine.

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