Dr. James Pacala, a board-certified family physician and geriatrician, is professor and head of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He has been on the faculty since 1992, performing a variety of roles in research, education, clinical care, and administration for the department.
Dr. Pacala is project director for the Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP), a five-year, $3.74 million award of federal funding from HRSA, the Health Resources and Services Administration Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, which started in 2019.
Dr. Pacala has performed research and published extensively on models of care delivery to geriatric populations and on innovative teaching methods. He is a past president and board chair of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS). In addition to his research publications, he has served as co-author of the AGS practice handbook, Geriatrics At Your Fingertips, which is now in its 23rd edition. Dr. Pacala was co-editor-in-chief of the AGS comprehensive geriatrics resource, the Geriatrics Review Syllabus, for its seventh (2010) and ninth (2016) editions. In 2013-14, he served as an Atlantic Philanthropies Health and Aging Policy fellow at the U.S. Senate HELP Committee, Subcommittee on Aging and Health (Bernard Sanders, I-VT, Chair).
Dr. Pacala has received several awards for his research, teaching, and clinical care, including the American Geriatrics Society’s Outstanding Achievement for Clinical Investigation Award (2002), the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award (1999), the University of Minnesota’s All-University Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education Teaching Award (2002), and the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center Award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching (2009).
He received his baccalaureate degree from Carleton College and his MD from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. After completing a residency in family medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Pacala obtained a master’s degree in chronic disease epidemiology from Brown University and completed two fellowships, one in Health Services Research in Gerontology (at Brown) and the other in clinical geriatrics (at the University of Connecticut).