Dr. Neal Nathanson, a renowned PennMed microbiologist and until recently the director of the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has been named Vice Provost for Research, according to Provost Robert L. Barchi. In September, Dr. Nathanson stepped down from his position with the NIH, where he had served as Director of the Office of AIDS Research since 1998. Dr. Nathanson will assume his position here on December 1.
While serving at the NIH, Dr. Nathanson led an office that coordinated scientific, budgetary, legislative, and policy elements of the NIH AIDS research program and also promoted collaborative research both in the United States and abroad.
"President Rodin and I are thrilled that someone of Neal's stature will head our research efforts," said Provost Barchi. "Penn's research enterprise has grown exponentially over these last 10 years, and the landscape in which our scientists conduct research has changed dramatically. I can't think of anyone with a better combination of world-class personal research, and science policy experience at the national and local level, to lead our research efforts in the near-term."
As the new VP for Research, Dr. Nathanson will have policy and administrative oversight for the University's over $500 million research enterprise. He will also deal directly with policy issues relating to the conduct of research, including human research and clinical trials. He will also play a central role in the strategic planning for research and will assist in the transfer of new technology from the research laboratory to the public.
Dr. Nathanson rose to prominence for his definitive work on the virology and epidemiology of polio. His significant contributions include the clear delineation of the two major routes by which poliovirus could be disseminated in its host. His other research breakthroughs include the demonstration that lymphocytic choriomeningitis could be prevented or enhanced by immune manipulation, and the detailed genetic analysis of bunyavirus virulence. He also did some of the key, early studies of visna virus of sheep, the prototype of the lentiviruses, of which the AIDS virus is another member. His NIH-sponsored work has included studies in the mechanism by which HIV causes disease.
"I am delighted to rejoin the Penn community, this time as a member of the University administrative team," said Dr. Nathanson. "It will be my aim to optimize the research infrastructure at Penn, in order to provide the research community with an environ-ment that encourages and supports research in a user friendly fashion. Penn investigators have an international reputation and in recent years have compiled an outstanding record of growth in research funding. We will strive to match these accomplishments with a robust support system which helps our research community maintain their successful efforts."
Dr. Nathanson received his B.S. and M.D. at Harvard University, and received his clinical training in internal medicine at Chicago. He subsequently did his postdoctoral training in virology at Johns Hopkins.
Dr. Nathanson spent two years at the Centers for Disease Control, heading the Polio Surveillance Unit. He later joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, becoming the Professor and Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Epidemiology.
Dr. Nathanson joined PennMed in 1979 where he chaired the department of microbiology for 15 years and served as vice dean for research and research training for two years. He became emeritus professor in 1995.
Dr. Nathanson has numerous affiliations with scientific societies including the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Public Health Association; the American Academy of Neurology; the American Epidemiological Society; the Association of American Physicians; the American Society for Virology; and the Society for Infectious Diseases.
He has been the President of the American Epidemiological Society; an Editor of Epidemiologic Reviews; and a member of the AIDS vaccine research committee of the NIH.
Dr. Nathanson's awards include the Research Career Development Award, USPHS; the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award; and the Society of Scholars at the Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Nathanson's appointment follows an extensive search process that included consideration of both internal and external candidates. He was considered by the committee following his resignation from the NIH in September. "It was truly good fortune that Neal was finishing his work with the NIH just as we were conducting the search for a Vice Provost for Research," said Dr. Barchi. "Fortune smiled and we couldn't be more pleased that someone with his depth and experience has taken this leadership position."
Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 12, November 14, 2000