Jefferson executive resigns after Twitter trouble

Mark Tykocinski, MD, has resigned from his roles as president of Thomas Jefferson University and interim dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College in Philadelphia. 

Jefferson CEO Joseph G. Cacchione, MD, wrote in an email to the university community July 20 that Dr. Tykocinski is exiting his leadership roles "to focus on his research," according to a copy of the message obtained by Becker's. Dr. Cacchione said Dr. Tykocinski's cancer immunotherapy research has reached a pivotal stage. He will continue his work as a professor.

Dr. Tykocinski started as president of Thomas Jefferson University July 1, 2022. He previously served as the university's provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and as dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. Much of his research centers on immunotherapy and gene therapy — he holds a series of patents related to protein and cellular engineering. 

"We appreciate Dr. Tykocinski’s years of transformational service to Jefferson and wish him an abundance of success in his scientific and other endeavors given their importance to humanity," Dr. Cacchione wrote. 

Board member Susan Aldridge, PhD, is now the interim president of Thomas Jefferson University, and Steven Herrine, MD, vice dean of undergraduate medical education, will serve as interim dean of the medical school. Dr. Cacchione's email notes that the university's searches for a provost and medical school dean were nearing completion.

Dr. Tykocinski's resignation followed controversy this spring when tweets he had "liked" were called into question. Some tweets questioned the validity and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and called gender reassignment surgery "child mutilation."

Dr. Tykocinski said he used the "like" function on Twitter to bookmark tweets — not endorse them — in an effort to learn more about the subject matter and better understand particular points of view. 

At the time, Dr. Cacchione conveyed disappointment in Dr. Tykocinski's "careless" use of the social media network to the Jefferson community. "At his level, he is held to a higher standard and should have known better," Dr. Cacchione wrote in an email to faculty, employees and students.

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