Global Health

February 15, 2005

Vanderbilt School of Medicine announces new chair and Institute for Global Health

Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., has been named the first Amos Christie Chair in Global Health and director of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine‘s Institute for Global Health. He will assume the role effective July 1.

Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., has been named the first Amos Christie Chair in Global Health and director of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine‘s Institute for Global Health. He will assume the role effective July 1.

“In inaugurating the new Institute for Global Health, we will seek to facilitate collaborative research, teaching and service activities in the developing world, expanding opportunities for everyone in the Vanderbilt-Meharry community who cares about diseases of poverty, tropical climes and health disparities,” Vermund said.

Vermund comes to Vanderbilt from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he serves as director of the Sparkman Center for Global Health, as well as professor of Epidemiology, Medicine, Pediatrics and Nutrition Sciences, and director of the Division of Geographic Medicine in the Department of Medicine.

Steven G. Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, said Vermund‘s recruitment is “head turning and a major gain for our faculty in research and teaching.”

“Sten is not only an internationally recognized investigator and epidemiologist, but he is an outstanding teacher,” Gabbe said. “Over the years global health has been almost an add-on in the medical curriculum, and now it has become an essential part of what we must teach and what our students must know. We look forward to having Sten grow our international activities in education, creating opportunities for students in the Emphasis program, in the Medical Scholars program, and expanding our programs in research.”

As director of the Institute for Global Health, Vermund‘s work will go beyond the Medical Center as he leads a trans-institutional effort to address international health concerns.

“Sten stood out as someone who understands how different parts of the University could come together to deal with global health issues — how ethics, the nature of social and cultural practices and politics are important aspects of how we address global health,” said Jennifer Howe, associate vice chancellor for International Advancement.

“This is an exciting appointment for the Center for Medicine Health and Society and for the University. Dr. Vermund can help us develop a global perspective on health and health care, particularly in the developing world,” said Matthew Ramsey, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Center for Medicine, Health and Society.

Vermund referenced the current HIV vaccine research efforts in Haiti, led by Peter F. Wright, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology, Pathology, and director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, as an example of Vanderbilt‘s “willingness to engage in the world‘s toughest scientific challenges in the world‘s neediest communities,” and one of the reasons he was drawn to Vanderbilt.

“Vanderbilt is a leading university in the application of knowledge at the community level, translating basic and clinical science insights into public health relevance,” Vermund said. “There is no better environment for someone work in global health, particularly given the University‘s ability to tackle complex interdisciplinary health challenges that will need not only medical solutions, but interventions that fit a cultural, historical, human rights and economic context.”

Vermund is an infectious disease epidemiologist with experience in tropical parasitic diseases, sexually transmitted infections and virus-neoplasia interactions. His current research focuses on HIV/AIDS in developing countries.

“The recruitment of Dr. Vermund as director of the Institute for Global Health and as a professor of Pediatrics catapults Vanderbilt to the forefront of clinical research in international health, especially in regard to prevention of AIDS transmission from mother to child and in evaluation of drug and potential vaccine treatments for HIV and other infectious diseases,” said Arnold W. Strauss, M.D., James C. Overall Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics.

Vermund earned his B.A. from Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. and his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y. He completed a Pediatric internship and residency, as well as a fellowship in Epidemiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Vermund also earned an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Columbia University in New York.

Vermund has served as chief of the epidemiology branch of the AIDS division of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and is the U.S. chair of the U.S.-Japan Panel on AIDS. He is the recipient of the Public Health Service‘s (PHS) Superior Service Award and the NIAID/NIH/PHS Meritorious Service Award, among numerous other honors.