BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Alice L. Walton School of Medicine has named its founding dean and chief executive officer.

The first-of-its-kind medical school announced the appointment of Dr. Sharmila Makhija to lead the new medical school beginning in May.

According to a release, in her new role, Dr. Makhija, will work with health systems and institutional partners to “enhance medical education and prepare students for their future health care roles in the community and country.”

The press release notes Dr. Makhija is a surgeon and women’s health expert, most recently serving as Department Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health, professor of gynecologic oncology, and held the Chella and Moise Safra Endowed Chair at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Makhija to the AWSOM team and to the region,” said School of Medicine Founder, Alice Walton. “Her background and commitment to medical education will advance our work in equipping physicians to tackle challenges of the 21st century by focusing on the physical, mental, social, and emotional health of the people and communities we serve.”

Founded in 2021 and seeking accreditation, Alice L. Walton School of Medicine will reportedly offer a four-year medical degree program that builds upon an evidence-based curriculum and integrates a “compassionate, inclusive, and whole health approach to care for not only patients, but also students, faculty, and staff.”

The 154,000-square-foot medical education building will be located on the campus of Crystal Bridges in Bentonville. Pending programmatic accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the school plans to open in 2025.

Renderings of the school can be found below:

“The opportunity to build a medical school from the ground up, with the vision of philanthropist, Alice Walton, is a dream come true,” said Dr. Makhija. “Health care delivery is fractured and in need of transformation so that all Americans can have access to the respectful care they deserve. Training the doctors of the future, within a culture of diversity and inclusivity, is central to that transformation. Our goal is to build a new medical school and be a leader in improving health and wellness. I can’t wait to meet the wonderful community of Northwest Arkansas and get started!”