Pitt and the Children’s Hospital of UPMC are getting new perspective with a researcher and leader focused on curing disease and increasing life expectancy.
On Jan. 11, officials of Children’s Hospital of UPMC announced that Terence S. Dermody will serve as the new chair of Pediatrics at Pitt and the scientific director of Children’s Hospital. Dermody, who will start his new position on June 1., previously worked at Vanderbilt University, where he held several roles including director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and director of the Medical Scientist Training Program.
According to the release, David H. Perlmutter, who previously held Dermody’s position, left Children’s in Dec. to serve as the executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.
“Terry Dermody is a world renowned researcher, compassionate physician, visionary leader and just an all-around first class person,” Christopher Gessner, president of Children’s Hospital, said in a press release. “We are thrilled that he will be joining our team as we continue to grow our clinical and research programs and make Children’s the place to be for pediatric physicians and physician scientists to launch and build their careers.”
Dermody said Pitt’s expressed interest in his research as they talked through the hiring process “moved” him. Although he was a professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt, he has also been conducting NIH funded research since 1987.
His research focuses on viral pathogenesis and vaccine development. Dermody worked mainly on reovirus, an experimental model for studies of viral encephalitis — inflammation of the brain — in infants and chikungunya virus — a virus that mosquitos transmit.
According to Dr. Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of Medicine, Dermody’s range of interests led Pitt to select him for the position.
“His academic interests, which included running Vanderbilt’s M.D./Ph.D. training program, are unusually broad. An exceptional physician and scientist, he will be an asset to our faculty, residents and students,” Levine said in a press release.
Dermody started his career at Cornell University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1978. He received his medical degree from Columbia University in 1982 before working as an intern at Presbyterian Hospital in New York and as a fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
In his new position, Dermody wants to “focus on health rather than illness.” Twenty years from now, Dermody said he hopes to look back and see infant mortality rates have decreased and life expectancy has increased.
“My vision for Children’s is … to be the go-to site for training and to do world class, just breathtaking research,” Dermody said.