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Pitt’s Dean Burke Named Global Health Research Ambassador


Donald S. Burke, M.D., dean of the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) at the University of Pittsburgh and associate vice chancellor of global health, has been named an Ambassador in Research!America’s Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research. Dr. Burke is now one of 50 of the nation’s foremost global health experts who have joined forces to increase awareness about the critical need for greater U.S. public and private investment in research to improve global health.

“Our nation’s leaders must understand that increased U.S. investment in global health research will help improve health conditions in impoverished countries and also help to prevent the emergence and spread of diseases that can endanger Americans here and abroad,” said Dr. Burke . “Put simply, it’s a matter of national security.”

The Society, named for The Honorable Paul G. Rogers, a former Florida Congressman and renowned champion for research to improve health, was established in 2006 by Research!America with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In its first two years, the Society’s Advisory Council—which includes three Nobel Laureates—selected 50 of the nation’s leading scientist advocates to serve as Ambassadors.

As GSPH dean, Dr. Burke leads one of the nation’s preeminent public health schools. GSPH is home to departments of behavioral and community health sciences, biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, epidemiology, health policy and management, human genetics and infectious diseases and microbiology. Dr. Burke, who was recruited from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health last year, also directs the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research; serves as associate vice chancellor for global health; and became the first occupant of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Jonas Salk Chair in Global Health.

From 1999 to 2006, Dr. Burke was principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded HIV Vaccine Trials Unit, a consortium based at the Johns Hopkins Center for Immunization Research and involving clinical trial sites in China, India and Thailand. Before retiring from the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1997 at the rank of colonel, Dr. Burke was associate director for emerging threats and biotechnology at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and professor of medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

In his new leadership position, Dr. Burke will work to raise the visibility of global health research through the news media and in meetings with policy makers, opinion leaders and the public. One of his central messages will be to stress the importance of effective collaboration among the nation’s government, industry, academic, patient advocacy and philanthropic research sectors.

“Investing in global health research is the smart thing to do for America and the right thing to do for the world,” said The Honorable John Edward Porter, chair of the Society’s Advisory Council and Research!America board chair. “Dr. Burke has personally seen the value of saving lives and protecting health around the world, and his insights will help bring this important story to more Americans.”

Research!America is the nation’s largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, it is supported by 500 member organizations that together represent the voices of more than 125 million Americans. Visit for more information.

Founded in 1948 and fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, GSPH is world-renowned for contributions that have influenced public health practices and medical care for millions of people. One of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, GSPH was the first fully accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with alumni who are among the leaders in their fields of public health. The only school of public health in the nation with a chair in minority health, GSPH is a leader in research related to women’s health, HIV/AIDS and human genetics, among others. To learn more about


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