Emergency & Trauma

January 27, 2022

Tennessee Poison Center director Seger retires


by Kylie Avery

Donna Seger, MD
Donna Seger, MD

Donna Seger, MD, retired in December 2021 after working for 33 years at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Tennessee Poison Center (TPC).

Seger began her career at VUMC in 1988 in the Department of Emergency Medicine, becoming professor of Clinical Medicine and Emergency Medicine. She served as medical and executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center from 1990-2021.

Seger received her undergraduate and medical degrees from University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. She did a residency in emergency medicine and a fellowship in toxicology at the University of Cincinnati.

As the first director of TPC, Seger was committed to developing it into a permanent and trusted resource in not only the medical but public community as well.

“My goal was to create a resource that people could use to help them address their situation and guide them in finding an appropriate solution,” adds Seger.

To ensure the TPC would remain active, Seger worked to secure funding for the center.

“There was no guaranteed funding when I became director, so it was important to create reliable support so that we could continue to serve and keep our community safe,” she said.

Seger helped establish the TPC Hospital Consortium, which helps fund the center through donations from hospitals within the state. Today the center is primarily funded by federal and state grants with support from the Hospital Consortium and VUMC.

Seger taught toxicology courses at Vanderbilt and developed consulting services and toxicology rotations for emergency medicine and pediatric residents and fellows and pediatric emergency medicine fellows. She received the annual Clinical Faculty Teacher Award from the Department of Emergency Medicine three times.

She was the first female president of the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology (AACT) and received its Career Achievement Award and Distinguished Service Award for her achievements in the field of toxicology and for her influence on the organization. She is one of only two people to receive both awards. She was also recognized with the Louis Roche Award for her contribution to toxicology education from the European Association of Poison Centres and Clinical Toxicologists (EAPCCT).

In 2019, Seger transitioned out of her role as medical director of the TPC, to executive director and assisted Rebecca Bruccoleri, MD, in succeeding her as the new medical director. She retired as executive director on Dec. 31, 2021.

While retired from active clinical practice, she plans to remain active in the toxicology community.

“I am continuing my role as deputy editor of the Toxicology International Journal. I thoroughly enjoy working with fellows-in-training and participating in their learning process and providing insight from personal experience. Publishing the Toxicology Question of the Week to answer questions received at the TPC is also important to continue the TPC’s mission of outreach. We now have a distribution of more than 3,000,” Seger said.

“Most of all in my retirement, I look forward to spending a lot of time with my children and four grandchildren.”