Former UCSD Dean of Clinical Affairs Dies in Africa

By Brandi Powell and Monica Garske
|  Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013  |  Updated 5:17 PM PDT
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Thomas McAfee, the former dean of clinical affairs at UC San Diego died unexpectedly in an accident while vacationing in Africa. NBC 7's Brandi Powell reports on McAfee's life and legacy.

Thomas McAfee, the former dean of clinical affairs at UC San Diego died unexpectedly in an accident while vacationing in Africa. NBC 7's Brandi Powell reports on McAfee's life and legacy.

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The University of California San Diego’s former dean of clinical affairs, Thomas ‘Tom’ McAfee, has died, NBC 7 confirmed.

According to Debra Kain, director of Health Sciences Research Communications at UC San Diego, McAfee recently died in an accident while on vacation in Tanzania, Africa. His cause of death has not yet been released.

Kain says McAfee’s last day with UC San Diego was fairly recent. He was set to begin a new job at the University of Southern California this Tuesday, Sept. 3, as the CEO of the Keck Medicine of USC Medical Foundation.

NBC 7 reached out to several of McAfee’s colleagues on Sunday regarding his unexpected death.

In an email, Mounir Soliman, assistant vice chancellor and executive director of Health Sciences International at UC San Diego, called the news of McAfee’s death a tragedy.

“It’s a true tragedy and great loss to all of us at UCSD. We are planning several events in celebration of Dr. McAfee's life,” said Soliman.

In his roles at UC San Diego, McAfee was the dean of Clinical Affairs for the UC San Diego Health Sciences, as well as chief executive officer for UC San Diego Faculty Practice. He provided leadership for UC San Diego Medical Group, an inpatient and outpatient physician practice. He also served as president of UC San Diego Ambulatory Surgery Center.

According to his official UCSD biography, McAfee was recruited in 2002 as UCSD Health Sciences’ first physician-in-chief. Prior to joining UCSD, he served as associate chief medical officer at UC San Francisco.

On Sunday, McAfee’s UC San Diego colleagues, David Brenner, MD, Paul Viviano and Larry Friedman, MD, released the following email to faculty and staff at UC San Diego Health Sciences:

“It is with regret and personal sadness that we inform you that Dr. Thomas McAfee, until very recently, the Dean of Clinical Affairs for UC San Diego Health Sciences and CEO for UC San Diego Faculty Practice, was killed in an accident while on vacation in Africa. We have no other details at present.

Dr. McAfee served us and worked alongside us for more than 11 years, and his death is a great loss – both to many of us personally, and to the field of health care which would have benefited enormously from his talent and dedication in coming years.

Dr. McAfee was adventurous in spirit, loved to visit new places and to meet new people. A celebration of his life will be held in coming weeks for the Health Sciences community.”

NBC 7 also reached out to USC, McAfee’s new employer, regarding his sudden death.

Leslie Ridgeway, director of media relations for Keck Medical Center of USC, released the following statement Sunday afternoon on behalf of Thomas Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health:

"We are devastated by this news," said Jackiewicz."Tom was a dear friend of mine and a respected colleague. His contributions to health care were numerous, and he was excited about the opportunity to begin a new chapter of his life and career helping us propel USC forward in its health-care growth. The world has lost a kind and talented individual far too soon."

At this point, no official details have been released regarding how McAfee died.

On Wednesday, a State Department official released the following information to NBC 7:

"We can confirm the death of U.S. citizen Thomas McAfee in Tanzania on August 31. We offer our condolences to his family and loved ones on their loss. We are in contact with the family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the privacy of those affected, we decline further comment."

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