January 12, 2022

Longtime VUMC leader Kaiser set to retire

Allen Kaiser, MD, is retiring on Jan. 31, after a 50-year career with VUMC serving in multiple leadership roles on VUMC’s campus and at Saint Thomas West Hospital.

Allen Kaiser, MD
Allen Kaiser, MD

Allen Kaiser, MD, professor of Medicine with Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and physician advisor to the Chief of Clinical Staff for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is retiring on Jan. 31, after a 50-year career with VUMC serving in multiple leadership roles on VUMC’s campus and at Saint Thomas West Hospital.

Kaiser’s responsibilities at VUMC have also included Vanderbilt Health System’s first chief of staff, interim chair of the Department of Medicine, vice chair for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Medicine and chief of staff for Vanderbilt University Hospital.

“Dr. Kaiser was a pioneer as a member of our faculty serving in leadership roles at another Nashville hospital so that our residents could train in diverse clinical environments. Throughout his career he has ably and graciously advanced the missions of the Department of Medicine and our hospitals and health system in so many important ways. He is a role model and mentor to countless others,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have served with Dr. Kaiser and want to thank him for his many contributions.”

Kaiser, an expert in epidemiology and hospital infection prevention, joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1972 as an instructor of Medicine and chief of Infectious Diseases for the newly established clinical training program at Saint Thomas Hospital, where he also served as hospital epidemiologist. In 1981, he became chair of the Department of Medicine at Saint Thomas.

In 1988, Kaiser accepted the position of the newly established vice chair of the Department of Medicine at VUMC. In 1991 he was promoted to professor of Medicine.

“The portfolio of leadership accomplishments assembled by Dr. Kaiser reflects his sustained and significant commitment to the missions of VUMC. His ability to build consensus, promote cultural change and lead consequential initiatives to successful conclusions is unsurpassed,” said David Raiford, MD, chief of Clinical Staff for VUMC and senior associate dean for Faculty Affairs in the School of Medicine. “As a leader and adviser, his gentle gravitas is widely appreciated and admired.”

Kaiser was twice recognized by VUSM students as a Distinguished House Staff Teacher (1991-1993). He is a past president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

“I am blessed to have been a part of Vanderbilt for virtually all of my career. Incredibly talented individuals from every area of health care have graciously coached me along the way. I will continue to celebrate this terrific institution (cheering even from the sidelines) as it further ascends as a national leader in all areas of patient care, teaching and research,” said Kaiser.

Kaiser has held leadership roles in governmental and professional societies. He served as an invited consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) working groups related to the ‘Prevention of Surgical Wound Infections’ and ‘Guidelines for the Prevention of HIV Infection in Health Care Workers.’

He is a past president of the Society for HealthCare Epidemiology of America and has authored 17 book chapters and more than 70 peer-reviewed publications.

Kaiser is a “double ‘Dore,” having earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Vanderbilt University and his Doctor of Medicine from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he was president of his senior class.

His residency training was in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was with the prestigious Osler Service. He followed his residency with a two-year U.S. selective service tour as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the CDC and then a fellowship in infectious diseases at VUMC.

Kaiser’s wife, Joan, is a research nurse in the Division of General Surgery. The Kaiser family affiliation with Vanderbilt runs deep, as Joan has her master’s degree in counseling from Vanderbilt; a daughter attended the University as an undergraduate; two sons attended VUSM; their daughter-in-law graduated from Vanderbilt Law School; and two grandchildren currently attend Vanderbilt University.