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Growing up in the rural village of Heron Lake on the southern Minnesota prairie, I was introduced to the practice of family medicine at an early age. My father was a general practitioner and my mother was a nurse. I studied biology at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and went on to earn a medical degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Returning to my home state in 1976, I completed a residency in family medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Later came a trip that was partly adventure and partly work in mission clinics as my wife Mary, a psychologist, and I drove the Pan American Highway to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America.

My introduction to the University of Missouri began in 1980, when I came to Columbia on a Robert Wood Johnson Academic Family Medicine Fellowship to earn a master's degree in public health. Mary and I decided to put down roots in Columbia, and I joined the MU School of Medicine as residency director in the Department of Family Medicine in 1982. Since then, apart from a brief sabbatical in 1989-90 to study the scope and quality of health services in rural America, we have considered MU home. My work in family medicine included service as associate chair of the Department of Family Medicine (1991-1998) and chair of the department from 1998 to 2008.

Today I serve as vice chancellor of University of Missouri Health System. My colleagues and I share a commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of the students we teach and to helping them graduate with the skills to succeed as global citizens. We are committed to becoming a leader in research that will create benefits extending well beyond the state of Missouri. Through our hospitals and clinics and our health sciences schools, we touch the lives of Missourians across the state in myriad ways - from training the family physicians in their hometowns ... to treating adults and children with the most serious illnesses and injuries ... to conducting research in the fight against cancer.

I invite you to explore all that MU Health System has to offer via our Web site or by visiting us in Columbia, in the beautiful heartland of Missouri.

Harold A. Williamson, Jr., MD, Vice Chancellor

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