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William Cooper named interim chair of the Department of Pediatrics

Dec. 7, 2023, 8:05 AM

William Cooper, MD, MPH

by John Howser

William Cooper, MD, MPH, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs for Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) has been named Interim chair of the Department of Pediatrics. He will assume this role Feb. 1, 2024.

Cooper succeeds Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, James C. Overall Professor and Chair, who is departing Vanderbilt University Medical Center to serve as Dean and Executive Vice Chancellor for University of Arkansas Medical Sciences.

Cooper, who is also President of the Vanderbilt Health Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy (CPPA), is a longtime VUMC leader and practicing pediatrician in the Pediatric Primary Care Clinic with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. He is a VUSM graduate and has been a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics since 1996.

He has led VUSM programs, including the CPPA, the Master of Public Health Program and the Department of Pediatrics Office for Faculty Development. As Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs in the Department of Pediatrics, he has supported the appointment of more than 500 faculty and promotions for more than 200.

“The Department of Pediatrics is vital to our mission. I want to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Cooper for his willingness to serve as interim chair. Bill’s longstanding history and deep familiarity with the department’s people and its programs are an incredible institutional asset,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of VUMC and Dean of VUSM.

Cooper has distinguished himself as an internationally recognized expert in the safety of prescription medications in children and pregnant persons, publishing more than 160 scholarly articles to date. His research has resulted in clinical recommendations and changes in prescribing guidelines by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, and the European Medicines Agency.

Last year, the department cared for more than 17,000 inpatients and nearly 300,000 outpatients. It is currently comprised of 460 primary faculty and VMG clinicians, 140 secondary faculty, 282 voluntary faculty who practice in the community, 92 postdoctoral fellows, 127 residents and 270 administrative and research staff.

“Most of the pediatricians practicing throughout this region were trained here at Monroe Carell and are already well acquainted with Dr. Cooper. We are fortunate to have such a well-respected leader on hand to serve our health system in this important role,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC.

With more than $101 million from all federal and nonfederal sources during calendar 2022, the department remains a top recipient of research grants.

“Bill has been a faculty member of the department for over 25 years and has contributed in highly significant ways to all our missions as a talented clinician, teacher and investigator. He has served as vice chair for Faculty Affairs for almost 15 years, and he has developed the most robust Office of Faculty Development of any pediatric department in the country. The department will be in excellent hands under Bill’s leadership as interim chair, and we will work very closely together to ensure a smooth and seamless transition,” Webber said.

Cooper has been invited to discuss the safety of antipsychotic medications to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. His research program has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I am so grateful for how I’ve been supported in the Department of Pediatrics for my entire career and how the Department is grounded in the values embodied in the VUMC Credo. I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity to shepherd through this transition and look forward to partnering with department, hospital, and VUMC leaders to ensure that the Vanderbilt Department of Pediatrics continues to be one of the best departments in the country,” Cooper said.

He is a recipient of the Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Award for Research, the Academic Pediatric Association’s Research Award, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, and is a member of the Society for Pediatric Research, the American Pediatric Society, and the Vanderbilt Academy for Excellence in Education.

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