Dr. Michael Caligiuri, CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, resigned Wednesday. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

Dr. Michael Caligiuri, the CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, resigned Wednesday, less than two weeks after Ohio State announced in a press release he would continue on with his role.

The Nov. 3 release from the university announced Caligiuri would remain CEO despite stepping down as director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, a role he had held for 20 years.

University President Michael Drake sent a letter to medical center staff Wednesday announcing Caligiuri’s resignation and that Dr. Raphael Pollock’s interim role as director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center will be permanent.

The letter also said Pollock, who was named interim director in the Nov. 3 release, will be “convening a transition team for oversight of day-to-day operations at The James.”

“Dr. Caligiuri has been an integral part of the success of our cancer program and our efforts to advance the care we provide to patients and their families in our community, across the nation and around the world,” Drake said in the letter.

Caligiuri, who had been CEO of The James since 2008, will return to his tenured faculty position and, through the remainder of the calendar year will serve in a new role as special adviser to Drake.

With Caligiuri’s resignation, Ohio State is now seeking both a CEO of The James and a chancellor of the Wexner Medical Center, the two most prominent positions in the university’s hospital system.

Caligiuri’s departure is the latest in a string of significant shake-ups inside Ohio State’s medical operation. In May, Dr. Sheldon Retchin stepped down as CEO of the Wexner Medical Center amid criticism of his leadership.

“Any large, complex organization undergoing transformative change will experience changes in leadership,” Ohio State spokesman Chris Davey said in an email. “The way forward, the way we can continue our current excellence, fulfill our strategic plan, and address the concerns that have been expressed by some faculty is if we continue to organize and operate ourselves efficiently and effectively as one medical center within one university focused on one goal: the health and wellness of the people we serve.”

The criticism came in the form of letters signed by some of Ohio State’s most prominent doctors and professors within the College of Medicine. The letters, which highlighted a divide between the Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Wexner Medical Center, were sent to Drake and other top administrators at the university.

“Drs. Retchin and [College of Medicine Dean Craig] Kent and the Medical Center leadership team have fostered a culture of ‘Us versus Them’ rather than a ‘Team Culture’ with the [Comprehensive Cancer Center] leadership,” the May letter read. “The ‘Us versus Them’ culture is seen by members of our Divisions on a daily basis when interacting with the Dean and other non-cancer physicians within the [medical center].”

In September, Dr. Ali Rezai, the director of the Wexner Medical Center’s Neurological Institute, left to lead a new neuroscience center at West Virginia University.

Despite the challenges, the medical center just turned in its most successful fiscal year in history, earning $3.4 billion in revenue.  

“The state of the Wexner Medical Center has never been better, with several of our most important indicators at historic highs and accelerating,” Davey said. “We have unprecedented momentum and opportunity for transformational growth. We have more work to do on building a team where everyone is unified in a common vision for the Medical Center.”

“We remain steadfastly committed to accelerating our excellence as an academic medical center, and will share additional transition details in the coming weeks,” Drake said in his letter Wednesday.