Yale School of Medicine Dean David Kessler has made a career of making a difference in people’s lives. When he was Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Kessler led efforts to improve food labeling, curb teen tobacco use and expedite drug review.
Now, Kessler again finds himself poised to make life easier for millions of people, as he will head the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, a leading worldwide nonprofit organization devoted to alleviating AIDS in children through research and education.
“I am honored to be appointed Chair of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation,” Kessler said. “This is an incredible time for the Foundation and I am excited to be leading the organization through its next chapter in creating a healthier future for children worldwide.”
The Glaser Foundation announced Kessler’s election to the position on Jan. 24. In addition, the Foundation also elected Philip Pizzo, the dean of Stanford University School of Medicine, to serve as vice chair. The former head of the Foundation’s board, Paul Glaser, will move into the new position of honorary chair, where he will serve as a strategic adviser.
“We are delighted to have Doctors Kessler and Pizzo on board to lead the Foundation into the future,” said Kate Carr, the president and CEO of the Foundation. “In my mind, there are no better advocates for children’s health.”
Susie Zeegan, the co-founder of the organization, also expressed satisfaction that Kessler and Pizzo would be lending their expertise and initiative in the fight against AIDS.
“When we first started the Foundation, we actively sought out the advice and involvement of great minds and leaders in their field such as Doctors Kessler and Pizzo,” Zeegan said. “They were there for us when our goal was about saving the life of just one child. They were there for us as the Foundation expanded its reach and its mission to do more for more children. And they are there for us today, as the Foundation embarks upon its next chapter.”
Irwin Birnbaum, the Yale medical school’s chief operating officer, was enthusiastic about Kessler’s new role and felt he would be a valuable resource.
“It is certainly one of the most prestigious organizations in the AIDS field, and I think it’s a recognition by another group of the dean’s organization skills,” Birnbaum said. “There are few better causes than trying to deal with, eradicate, or alleviate the issue of AIDS, especially pediatric AIDS.”
By funding and performing pediatric HIV/AIDS research and serving as an advocate for favorable pediatric health policies, the Foundation helps to improve children’s health around the world. Since 1988, the organization has raised over $130 million to fight AIDS.
“While the Foundation has grown, its passion and commitment toward ensuring better medical treatments for children have remained clear,” Kessler said.
The current agenda for the organization includes intensifying pediatric HIV/AIDS research, preventing mother-to-child contraction of HIV in developing countries, and strengthening its clinical research network to examine other life-threatening illnesses.