Former Cornell University president David Skorton begins leading Smithsonian Institution in DC

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WASHINGTON — A heart doctor and Ivy League university president is taking charge of the Smithsonian Institution.

David Skorton, the former president of Cornell University, begins his tenure Wednesday as the 13th secretary of the Smithsonian.

Skorton says the Smithsonian is uniquely positioned to lead a global dialogue on questions where the arts, humanities and sciences intersect.

Skorton was president of Cornell for nine years. Before that, he was president of the University of Iowa and a faculty member for 26 years.

As a heart doctor, Skorton's research has focused on congenital heart disease and cardiac imaging. He is the first medical doctor to lead the Smithsonian.

Skorton succeeds Wayne Clough (kluff) who retired in December. Albert Horvath, the Smithsonian's chief financial officer, served as acting secretary for the past six months.

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