Myra Muramoto, MD, MPH, FAAFP, a nationally regarded scholar and educator, has been appointed head of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, effective March 30. She has served as professor and interim head of the department since Oct. 1, 2014.
A National Institutes of Health-funded researcher, passionate advocate for improving care for the medically underserved and role model for women trainees in medicine, Dr. Muramoto becomes the department’s ninth chair, succeeding Tamsen L. Bassford, MD, who was named interim department head in April 2002 and permanent department head in January 2003.
“It is truly an honor to become the chair of the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine,” Dr. Muramoto said. “It is a privilege to work with and lead the outstanding people in our department, who bring such passion, dedication and excellence to their teaching, research, clinical service and community engagement. I am excited for the opportunity to continue the growth and development of a department that is leading the transformation of patient-centered care through research, service innovation and training.”
“Dr. Myra Muramoto is a superb choice for this important recruitment,” said Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA vice president for health sciences. “Family and Community Medicine is a critical player in this era of health-care reform and Dr. Muramoto is exceptionally well-qualified to lead the department and position it as one of the nation’s premier academic family and community medicine programs.”
Charles B. Cairns, MD, interim dean for the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, also applauded the selection of Dr. Muramoto, adding, “We are fortunate to have within our ranks such an accomplished and inspiring individual whose leadership and energy will be felt throughout the entire college and Arizona Health Sciences Center.”
Dr. Muramoto is internationally known for her groundbreaking research on novel approaches to smoking cessation. The National Cancer Institute and other sponsors have awarded more than $19 million to her research on how “concerned others” – from spouses and friends to massage therapists and chiropractors – can help smokers quit. The National Cancer Institute recently awarded her a new grant to study how learning to help others quit smoking might prevent smokers who recently quit from relapsing.
Dr. Muramoto also was a driving force behind the 2012 ban on smoking in and around all property owned or leased by what then was the University of Arizona Health Network, now Banner University Medicine. She also advocated for a smoking ban for all University of Arizona campuses and property. That ban took effect in August 2014.
Most of Dr. Muramoto’s research, clinical care and community outreach work has been with vulnerable and underserved populations, for whom the health effects of tobacco use and obesity are major causes of health disparities. She also has worked in developing nations, conducting tobacco and nutrition research in Lesotho, Egypt, Mexico, India, Indonesia and Nepal.
“Population health and addressing health equity are central to the Department of Family and Community Medicine’s mission,” Dr. Muramoto said. “With our established areas of research focus, strong graduate medical education and medical student teaching programs and long-standing community relationships, Family and Community Medicine is well-positioned to help the Arizona Health Sciences Center advance its reputation as a leader in improving population health and reducing health disparities.”
In addition to tobacco cessation, Dr. Muramoto’s research interests include clinical and community-based interventions for obesity treatment and prevention, social network interventions to promote healthy behavior change, and health-care system transformation for primary care and care of complex patients. She is the co-founder of the UA Clinical Weight Loss program and is one of the founding principal investigators of the Collaboratory for Prevention and Treatment of Metabolic Disease, a collaborative research venture involving the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine, the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the UA Department of Medicine.
Dr. Muramoto received her bachelor’s degree in nutritional science from the UA, and graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1988. She completed her family medicine residency at the UA, serving as co-chief resident during her third and final year. She then completed a faculty development and research fellowship, and joined the faculty of the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine in 1990.
She has a master’s of public health degree from the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and is a graduate of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine fellowship program. She is board-certified in family medicine, addiction medicine and obesity medicine and is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
In 2013, Dr. Muramoto was appointed senior vice head of the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine, becoming interim chair in October 2014, after Dr. Bassford stepped down. Dr. Bassford continues as UA associate professor of family and community medicine.