Mary Donaldson

Sten Vermund, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, will serve as the next dean of the Yale School of Public Health, University president Peter Salovey announced to the Yale community in a Tuesday email.

Vermund has served as the Amos Christie Chair in global health, the director of the university-wide Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health since 2005 and, more recently, vice president for global health of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He will assume the position of dean on Feb. 1, 2017.

In an email to the News, Salovey praised Vermund for his work in the field of public health, both in the U.S. and abroad.

“Sten Vermund is a nationally and internationally respected voice in tackling some of the most vital challenges to global health of our time,” Salovey wrote. “I couldn’t be more pleased to have him joining the ranks of our academic leadership, and I look forward to his expertise in shepherding the School of Public Health toward even greater prominence as the school begins its second century.”

Vermund earned his M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and received training in pediatrics at Columbia University before pursuing a master’s degree in community health in developing countries at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In the mid-1980s, Vermund helped establish an adolescent health clinic that provided some of the earliest care to HIV-infected youth in New York City. For the past two decades, Vermund has dedicated his time to global-health issues, focusing particularly on initiatives in developing countries, including Pakistan, Nigeria and Zambia.

Outgoing dean of the School of Public Health Paul Cleary expressed his enthusiasm for Vermund’s appointment.

“I think it’s a fantastic appointment. I’ve known [Vermund] for many years and he’s an incredible semanticist, colleague, administrator and a wonderful person,” Cleary said. “I just think he’s going to be fantastic for the school.”

Reflecting on his 10-year term as dean of the School of Public Health, Cleary said that while he has “loved every minute” of his time there, he feels that it is an appropriate time to bring in new leadership with fresh ideas.

Robert Alpern, dean of the Yale School of Medicine, said that Cleary has done a “really great job” improving the school over the past 10 years and he is sure that Vermund will continue Cleary’s trajectory. Alpern added that he is confident in Vermund’s knowledge of his field and looks forward to working with him once he assumes his post.

“We will be working very closely together,” Alpern said. “The School of Public Health and the School of Medicine are tied at the hip.”

In an interview, Vermund expressed excitement about his appointment. He said it is a privilege to be able to serve as dean of Yale’s School of Public Health, adding that the school is “one of the great educational institutions” within his discipline.

Vermund also conveyed his vision for his new role, saying he looks forward to increasing the School of Public Health’s collaboration with other schools and institutions at Yale, including the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the School of Engineering & Applied Science, as well as those working on issues of high political relevance at Yale College.

Vermund said that as the field of public health becomes exceedingly interdisciplinary, major public-health challenges can only be tackled with expertise from many different sources.

“I think that schools of public health need to explore other ways of cross-cutting expertise, retaining some of the talent that sits logically in departments, but ensuring that there are no walls or barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration,” Vermund said. “I think Yale is doing a good job with that, and it will be a matter of ensuring that it can do an even better job.”

Vermund is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been a member of the National Academy of Medicine since 2012.