Bradley Van Voorhis

Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement

Bradley Van Voorhis

84MD

A native Iowan and longtime member of the Carver College of Medicine faculty, Bradley Van Voorhis is nationally recognized for his work to address infertility. His research efforts to improve the safety of in vitro fertilization (IVF) through increased use of single embryo transfer (SET) has influenced infertility physicians worldwide. In 2003, Van Voorhis founded the University of Iowa Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Fellowship Program and directed the program for 12 years. He now serves as the executive vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, where he has been instrumental to the department’s recognition as one of the best programs in the country in 2018 by U.S. News & World Report.

Van Voorhis has wanted to be a doctor since he was in fifth grade. Medicine is in his DNA. He was born at UI Hospitals & Clinics when his father, Lee, was a medical student at Iowa.

Van Voorhis left Iowa City for residency and fellowship, and he returned in 1990 to join the faculty. In 2003 he was named the F.K. “Ted” Chapler Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology at the UI Carver College of Medicine. This designation is especially meaningful to him.

“Ted Chapler was the division director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility when I was a student. He was always helpful, approachable, friendly, and knowledgeable. When I was a fellow in Boston (at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital), he asked me to return and join the faculty at Iowa. He was a valuable mentor, and I am honored to have a professorship in his name,” Van Voorhis says.

He is quick to credit his mentors and colleagues, but Van Voorhis’s leadership has made an indelible mark on the treatment of infertility. His pioneering work on SET greatly reduced the incidence of multiple births from IVF, and the complications and mortality that often accompanies them. SET has now become a standard of care and has improved outcomes for thousands of patients.

Van Voorhis has served as president of two leading societies in his field: the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART).

“His work has literally changed the practice of infertility and in vitro fertilization around the world,” says Randall R. Odem, MD, one of Van Voorhis’ nominators for the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Van Voorhis stresses the importance of teamwork, communication, and extensive clinical experience. He continues to pursue new lines of research and remains dedicated to training the next generation of providers. Communication and empathy are cornerstones of his approach.

“There is a significant ethical side to what we do. It’s important to provide individualized care to patients and to meet people where they are. We need to understand not only what is wrong, but how the patient is likely to react,” Van Voorhis says.

His colleague, Ginny Ryan, MD, was his first fellow and has witnessed his influence firsthand.

“I feel pride when travelling across the country and abroad and hear Brad’s name and our institution identified as exemplars of excellence in reproductive medicine. This program is what many programs in and outside the United States strive to be,” Ryan says.