January 11, 2008

New chair sees bold future for Pediatrics

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Jonathan Gitlin, M.D.

New chair sees bold future for Pediatrics

Jonathan Gitlin, M.D., of Washington University, will take over as chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in June.

“I could not be happier to have Jonathan as a part of our medical center, as he is one of this country's leading pediatricians,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “His broad appreciation for both children's health care and for child health research, coupled with his bold vision for the future of pediatrics at Vanderbilt, make him the perfect leader for our entire children's enterprise.”

Gitlin is the Helene B. Roberson Professor of Pediatrics and professor of Genetics at Washington University School of Medicine and scientific director of the Children's Discovery Institute. He teaches and cares for patients at St. Louis Children's Hospital, where he is chief of the Division of Genetics & Genomic Medicine.

“All the elements for greatness are in place at Vanderbilt: a passionate and committed community and citizen leadership; an outstanding, interactive and well established group of practicing pediatricians; the most talented academic pediatric faculty anywhere in the country; and a first class medical school with visionary leadership,” Gitlin said.

Kevin Churchwell, M.D., chief executive officer for Children's Hospital, said he’s excited about Gitlin coming to Vanderbilt.

“Dr. Gitlin's national stature, reputation and respect among his peers puts our Department of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital in an outstanding position as we continue to plan our future.

“I know Jonathan's very excited about coming to Vanderbilt and I look forward to working very closely with him in the near future.”

The extensive national search was led by Eric Neilson, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine.

Brent Polk, M.D., has served as interim chair since Arnold Strauss, M.D., departed last spring to serve as chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, chief medical officer of Cincinnati Children's and director of the Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation.

Polk will continue to serve in the interim until Gitlin's arrival in June.

Gitlin has been a member of the faculty of Washington University and St. Louis Children's Hospital since 1986, where Strauss served before coming to Vanderbilt in 2002.

“I knew Arnie as a colleague, friend and mentor for 20 years at Washington University and St. Louis Children's Hospital,” Gitlin said.

“Arnie was an outstanding chair, in the tradition of Amos Christie and David Karzon — two other great Vanderbilt pediatric leaders recruited from elsewhere. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to follow in the path of these great leaders.”

Gitlin is an expert in human genetic disease and his research focuses on the inorganic chemistry of living organisms, using zebrafish as an experimental system to explore the role of genetics and nutrition in early human development.

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the E. Mead Johnson Award for Excellence in Research from the Society for Pediatric Research, the Samuel Rosenthal Foundation Award for Excellence in Academic Pediatrics, the Chancellor's Hartwell Prize for Innovative Research from Washington University and a MERIT Award for research from the National Institutes of Health.

“Vanderbilt is an outstanding institution and the Department of Pediatrics has a tremendous history and reputation,” Gitlin said. “When I visited, I was most impressed by the number of individuals with the knowledge, experience and motivation to work together in improving the lives of children and their families. To me, any organization, any place, is only as good as the people who constitute the place,” Gitlin said.

“I hope only to empower all these people to use their talents, creativity and ambitions to make Children's Hospital a world class institution. I hope to work together with all these extraordinary individuals to make this hospital a beacon of hope for every child and every parent in need of help. Our discoveries should amaze and our compassion must have no limits,” Gitlin said.

Gitlin has authored or co-authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications and serves on several councils and committees, including roles at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the March of Dimes, among others.

He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Society for Pediatric Research and the American Pediatric Society.

Gitlin earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh and completed a pediatric residency and fellowship in Neonatology at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston. Before serving on the faculty of Washington University, he was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.