by Julie Huynh
In the not too distant past, it was rare to find a medical doctor who wasn’t practicing clinically. However, that did not deter Dr. Grant Senner from spearheading his own career path that encompassed his passions and directly addressed the needs of the healthcare system that he felt needed attention.
Following completion of his B.S. with honors in molecular and cellular biology in 1997 from the UA, Dr. Senner stayed in Tucson and graduated with an MD from the UA College of Medicine in 2004 with a different career trajectory than his fellow physicians. While his colleagues went on to start their residencies following graduation, Dr. Senner opted out and went straight to an administrative position in healthcare.
This wasn’t what he planned to do with his MD; like most other medical students, Dr. Senner originally planned on becoming a practicing clinician. He graduated from high school a year early and enrolled here at the UA as a MCB major. He remembered taking a couple of core 300 level classes, like genetics, his freshman year, which “made for a lot of fun.” Joking aside, MCB truly prepared him for the rigors of medical school, which he believes is a testament to the program.
It wasn’t until Dr. Senner took a year of clinical research between his second and third year of medical school that he had an epiphany regarding the changing nature of the health care system. He realized that the health care system had fundamentally changed and was going to continue to change. “Fast forward twenty plus years now and [the medical system] definitely has; it is not my father’s medical system and it is definitely not my grandfather’s medical system,” he said. This was when he knew he wanted to find alternate employment with his MD.
After his first administrative job, Dr. Senner went on to work for the not-for-profit and the for-profit sectors in health care and ultimately to his current position as the director of special projects and strategic initiatives for the Arizona Health Sciences Center. He has tasked himself to become a better physician executive, always with the intent of supporting his clinical physician colleagues on the way.
His unique career is not the only aspect of his life he has spearheaded—Dr. Senner and his wife, Michelle Senner, recently made their first gift to the UA foundation and established the Senner Endowment for Precision Health. While precision Health or personalized medicine is generally tailored to the individual, to Dr. Senner, it is broader, seeking to leverage not only individual developments using genetics, proteomic and other molecular assays and techniques, but to also make those scalable on a larger population base. “Personalized health and precision initiatives are really at the forefront of a lot of important work that is finally being done to bridge the gap between extraordinary dynamic molecular tests and what that really means at the bedside,” he said.
But even as Dr. Senner continues to innovate and promote innovation in others, he will not forget the great memories from his time as a MCB undergraduate, including being simultaneously impressed by the quality of the MCB curriculum and trying to adapt to the rigors of being in upper division courses as a freshman. He remembered how strong the MCB program was when he was an undergrad and as he has gotten to know some of the new MCB faculty, he is again impressed with the exceptional strength of the department. From his perspective, this is a dynamic time and encourages other MCB alumni to engage or re-engage with the MCB.
MCB alumni: Let us know what you're doing now and connect with MCB by completing our MCB Undergraduate Alumni Update at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/mcbalumnihighlight!