Richard C. Vari, PhD

Senior Dean for Academic Affairs, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Professor, Basic Science Education, Virgina Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Position Responsibilities

The senior dean for academic affairs oversees the implementation and integration of all four years of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine curriculum. This includes the coordination and oversight of curricular activities with each domain leader in Phase 1 and all clinical educational activities at clinical rotation sites in Phase 2. Major responsibilities include the coordination of vertical and horizontal integration of the curriculum through the Block Integration Committees, oversight of the student assessment and program evaluation processes, and implementation of curriculum modifications enacted by the Medical Curriculum Committee and the dean. The senior dean for academic affairs is a member of the Dean’s Leadership Team.

Professional Background

Dr. Vari received his undergraduate degree in biology and his master's and doctorate in physiology under the mentorship of Cobern E. Ott, PhD, from the University of Kentucky. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the department of physiology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine – Columbia under the mentorship of Ronald H. Freeman, Ph.D. Dr. Vari served as an assistant professor in the department of physiology at Tulane University School of Medicine from 1986 until 1993, working on cardio-renal research projects and teaching renal physiology to medical and graduate students. In 1993, Dr. Vari took a position as an associate professor in the department of physiology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

In 1997, North Dakota's medical school restructured the curriculum and Dr. Vari, as one of the leaders in this reformation, became the patient-centered learning director in the Office of Medical Education. He served as an assistant dean in various capacities in medical education and later was appointed to associate dean for medical education and professor of physiology. In that role, Dr. Vari coordinated the medical curriculum at North Dakota and directed the Office of Medical Education. He was heavily involved in redirecting the medical curriculum from a traditional didactic-based program to a PBL-Hybrid model; one that is patient-centered and focused on students as life-long learners. At North Dakota, Dr. Vari was also involved in the creation of an integrated combined graduate program in the basic sciences, helped to shape a medical curriculum with an emphasis on defining and assessing professionalism, explored the role of relationship centered care initiatives in improving the working environment of the medical school, and helped develop a national curriculum to identify and treat substance abuse focused on prescription use in the elderly, methamphetamine, and inhalents in the Native American population. He was also instrumental in the development and implementation of an interprofessional health education course involving all representatives of the health care profession at the University of North Dakota, and also helped to introduce a medical humanities and writings curriculum into the first two years of medical education.

Dr. Vari has obtained national funding for his work in renal physiology and innovations in medical education. He is an active member of the American Physiological Society, the International Association of Medical Science Educators, and has served on the American Physiological Society's education committee. He served two terms on the NBME Physiology Step 1 Committee. Dr. Vari has mentored numerous graduate and medical students, including four FAIMER International Fellows in Medical Education from Ethiopia and Nepal. Dr. Vari has taught renal and cardiovascular physiology to medical and graduate students for 22 years, many of those using problem-based learning methodology. Dr. Vari has been recognized numerous times for his contributions to research, teaching, innovations in medical education, faculty development, and community service.

Dr. Vari joined the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, in Roanoke, Virginia on April 1, 2008, as the founding associate dean for medical education. He is married to Patty Maloney, PhD, RN, IBCLC, associate professor of nursing at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences, also in Roanoke. They have two children; Elizabeth, a second-grade elementary teacher in St. George, Utah; and Alex, a senior at the University of North Dakota, who is majoring in accounting.

Awards and Honors

  • 1983, 1986 - NHLBI National Research Service Award, University of Missouri – Columbia
  • 1990 - Basil O'Conner Starter Research Award, March of Dimes Foundation
  • 1988-93 - Four Outstanding Medical Student Teaching Awards, Tulane University School of Medicine
  • 1992 - National TRIO Achiever Award, Department of Education
  • 1993 - Nominee, Excellence in Graduate Teaching, Tulane University Graduate School
  • 1995 - Commencement Speaker, Southeast Community College, University of Kentucky
  • 1996 - Keynote Speaker, North Dakota March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
  • 1997 - Keynote Luncheon Speaker, TRIO DAY, University of North Dakota
  • 1998 - Reverend Elmer and Min West Memorial Award for Exemplary Teaching, UNDSMHS
  • Recognition Award, North Dakota East Regional March of Dimes Foundation
  • 1998-01 - Member, American Physiological Society Education Committee
  • 1999 - Mentor, Alice T. Clark / UND Foundation Scholars Program
  • 1999-Present - Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, Faculty Member
  • 1999-08 - Member, State Board of Directors, March of Dimes Foundation North Dakota
  • 2000 - “Portrait Award” for Contributions to Student Education, Y2 –Medical Students, UNDSMHS March of Dimes Service Award (10 years), Grand Forks Community Service Award, Finalist,
  • Outstanding Faculty Development and Service Award, UND
  • 2001 - “Outstanding Block Instructor Award” Y1- Medical Student, UNDSMHS UND Foundation
  • Thomas J. Clifford Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Faculty Development and Service
  • FAIMER Mentor for two International Fellows in Medical Education from Ethiopia
  • 2001-05 - Member, National Board of Medical Examiners, USMLE Step 1 Physiology Committee
  • 2002 - “Outstanding Block Instructor Award” Y1- Medical Students, UNDSMHS
  • 2003 - FAIMER Mentor for an International Fellow in Medical Education from Nepal
  • Member, National Board of Medical Examiners, USMLE Step 1 Standards Panel Grand Forks Convention & Visitors Bureau Community Appreciation Award North Dakota
  • Youth Soccer Association Competitive Boys State Coach of the Year
  • 2004 - “Outstanding Block Instructor Award” Y1- Medical Students, UNDSMHS FAIMER Mentor for an International Fellow in Medical Education from Nepal Member, International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) Program Committee
  • 2005 - Two “Outstanding Block Instructor Awards” Y1- Medical Students, UNDSMHS President Elect, North Dakota Youth Soccer Association “Hippocratic Dignity Award”, for contributions to medical education at UNDSMHS March of Dimes Service Award
  • 2005-08 - American Physiological Society Representative to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2006 - William Crozier and Edith Magwood Fawcett Faculty Enhancement Award Acknowledging Excellence In Teaching Research and Service, UNDSMHS
  • 2006-07 - President, North Dakota Youth Soccer Association
  • 2007-08 - Member, International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) Program Committee

Education and Training

  • Department of Physiology, University of Missouri School of Medicine: Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • University of Kentucky: PhD
  • University of Kentucky: MS
  • University of Kentucky: BS