Oct. 9, 2020
As a 16-year-old boy growing up in the St. Louis suburb of Creve Coeur, Rick Barohn bought a copy of Irving Stone’s The Passions of the Mind. The 800-plus page biographical novel about Sigmund Freud — not exactly typical teenage fare — had a dramatic impact on Barohn’s life. He became so intrigued with Freud that he started thinking about studying brains for a living.
Nearly five decades after reading that book, Barohn is still into brains. Just like his hero, he’s a neurologist who is also an expert in human behavior. Specifically, he has a knack for building and motivating teams that can turn his big dreams into reality.
Barohn joined the University of Missouri in May. As executive vice chancellor for health affairs, he oversees the MU School of Medicine and MU Health Care. He reports directly to University of Missouri System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi.
They share an ambitious vision.
“We have very talented faculty, staff and students, and now we have a compelling vision for research in precision health and creative works,” Choi said. “Rick has so much experience at the national level in developing programs of excellence to support multi-institution research and clinical translation. Those are the areas where I want Mizzou to become a national leader.”
Barohn’s new role at MU goes beyond research, of course. He wants to help MU Health Care grow through smart partnerships. He wants the School of Medicine, whose students consistently exceed the national average on board scores, to continue what it’s been doing educationally and to keep taking steps forward in diversity and inclusion.
It is in the field of medical research, though, where the university system is making an unprecedented investment with the NextGen Precision Health initiative. The initiative includes the $220 million NextGen Precision Health building that is under construction. Choi has entrusted Barohn as the initiative’s executive scientific director.