Roberta E. Sonnino, MD, is professor of surgery and vice dean of faculty affairs and professional development at Wayne State University School of Medicine, and associate provost for medical affairs at Wayne State University. She also maintains an appointment as a contributed service professor in the Center for Health Policy and Ethics at Creighton University. Dr. Sonnino previously served as associate dean for faculty affairs and professor of pediatric surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and as associate dean for academic and faculty affairs and professor of surgery and pediatrics at Creighton University School of Medicine.
A native of New York, Dr. Sonnino moved to Venice, Italy, with her family as a young child. She completed her secondary schooling in Italy, and received her MD at the University of Padova, the oldest medical school in the world. She moved back to the U.S. for her post-graduate training, with internships in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati and in surgery at the University of Minnesota. She completed her general surgery residency at Henry Ford Hospital and her pediatric surgery fellowship at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Before becoming a full-time medical school administrator, Dr. Sonnino practiced pediatric surgery for many years, serving as chief of pediatric surgery and surgeon-in-chief of the Children’s Hospital at Mercer University School of Medicine, and previously as professor and chief of pediatric surgery, (and associate dean for special programs and assistant dean for student affairs) at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Earlier positions spanned a decade at Case Western Reserve University and the Medical College of Virginia. Her research on the study of ischemic injury to the intestine and intestinal graft preservation was funded by the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. Her accomplishments include over 75 peer-reviewed published articles and over 100 major presentations.
Dr. Sonnino completed the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) fellowship in 1998, and currently is a Learning Community advisor and a member of the faculty. She has served as an officer and committee member for more than 15 professional societies, is a past president of the Academy of Surgical Research and the Society for Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (SELAM). She is a member-at-large of the Steering Committee of the Group on Faculty Affairs, where she chaired the Research Subcommittee for three years.
During her faculty affairs career, Dr. Sonnino has established new offices of faculty affairs, and developed numerous successful programs in faculty development, professional career advancement, mentoring and women in medicine. In her current role, she oversees all aspects of faculty affairs and career development for the medical school, including comprehensive mentoring programs (with specific aspects dedicated to mid-and senior career mentoring and mentor training programs), promotion and tenure, grievances and medical school policies. In addition, as associate provost, she is responsible for assisting the Office of the Provost with issues relating to the School of Medicine, ensuring that the university and the medical school are working in unison. One of her pet projects is helping faculty find creative venues for scholarly activity, such as the use of her own hobby of photography as a source of scholarship.
Dr, Sonnino is a passionate photographer, has published dozens of photographs, maintains her own website, and has had four solo exhibits of her series of medical images entitled “Fragile Beginnings.” She serves as a volunteer photographer for “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep – Infant Bereavement Photography.” A monograph, “Journey to Authenticity: Voices of Chief Residents,” with photography by Dr. Sonnino, was published by the ACGME in May 2007, and received several awards. In April 2013, Dr. Sonnino completed the requirements to become a certified professional photographer (CPP), by passing the certification exam and image portfolio review. She plans to make photography a full-time occupation when she retires from medicine.