News Release

Nationally known pediatric infectious disease researcher named vice chancellor for research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Business Announcement

University of Tennessee Health Science Center

After an extensive national search, Jessica Snowden, MD, MS, FAAP, MHPTT, a nationally recognized pediatric infectious disease specialist and researcher, has been named the new vice chancellor for Research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, effective September 1. She will also serve as a professor in the College of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics.

Currently the vice dean for Research and chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Dr. Snowden is known as a dedicated mentor and a leader in integrating clinical, research, and academic efforts to advance the understanding of health and disease. Additionally, Dr. Snowden brings expertise in transparent and collaborative leadership that unites both science and advocacy for institutions, their faculty and trainees, and the health needs of those they serve.

“My own perspective, informed by my background as someone from a rural area disproportionately impacted by poverty and from an underrepresented group in biomedical research with Native American ancestry, provides valuable framing of my role in research and in particular research communication and advocacy,” Dr. Snowden said. “The human stories of how research impacts all of us, when packed skillfully with data and recommendations, can significantly advance policy and practice, and we will do so collaboratively in Tennessee.”

Dr. Snowden exemplifies an impressive career trajectory of extensive federally funded research, as evidenced by earlier career loan repayment and development awards, an R01 independent investigator career award, and now multiple institutional collaborative federal grants that amount to a current portfolio of more than $63 million in collaborative extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Snowden brings to her new position prior substantive experiences and current leadership in multisite and multistate interdisciplinary research, including a groundbreaking opioid study, as well as a major long-COVID study into the effects of the virus on children and families, particularly in underserved areas. These studies, including cutting-edge pediatric clinical trials, have engaged institutions across the country and thousands of children. Moreover, Dr. Snowden has a longstanding relationship with other pediatric infectious disease specialists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


 In addition to her broad base of clinical research, Dr. Snowden has led federally funded basic research on inflammation and neuroscience. These experiences across multiple aspects of basic, clinical, translational, and population-based research are an excellent fit with the current research portfolio and future collaborative opportunities at UT Health Science Center, as they impact health and health care across Tennessee. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Snowden to our team,” said Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD. “She possesses the collaborative style and broad team science approaches, the knowledge, and the commitment to enhance our vital research in collaboration with our partners across the University of Tennessee institutions, as we move toward our vision: Healthy Tennesseans. Thriving Communities.” 

“What drew me to this opportunity was the chancellor’s vision for growth and the opportunity in the state and the ability to use research to help a state that is really interested in improving its health,” Dr. Snowden said. “I am excited about the potential at UT Health Science Center, because when I met people there and I talked to people from across the campus and across the state, everybody felt like there was so much they could be doing to improve the lives of the people in Tennessee.” She said she will use “the power of team science” to assist the university in achieving its goals.  

UT Health Science Center researchers increasingly are involved in high-profile collaborative projects across the state. For example, in February, researchers at UT Health Science Center became part of a $20 million multi-institutional award from the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII) to develop new radiopharmaceutical cancer therapies. and this vital translational work is in partnership with UT Knoxville, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and UT-ORII. 

“Dr. Snowden joins us at a particularly opportune moment, as we build out collaborative research across and between our UT Health Science Center campuses in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, and in partnership with our committed hospital affiliates in each of those cities," said Samuel Dagogo-Jack, MD, senior associate vice chancellor for Research, Clinical, at UT Health Science Center.

 Dr. Dagogo-Jack and Deborah Crawford, PhD, vice chancellor for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development at UT Knoxville, cochaired the search committee that selected Dr. Snowden for the top research position at UT Health Science Center.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Snowden to the UT System research family,” Dr. Crawford said. “She brings a wealth of experience in high-impact collaborative research, and will be a much-valued colleague, as we work with health researchers and practitioners across the state to improve health outcomes for all Tennesseans.” 

Dr. Snowden joins UT Health Science Center at a propitious time in the UT System research organization, as it recently strategically aligned under the outstanding leadership of Bernie Savarese, EdD, MBA, MA, vice president for Academic Affairs, Research, and Student Success. Presently, Dr. Savarese is leading an associate vice president for Research search that is also at an advanced stage. Additionally, the last 18 months have seen several major recruitments of great colleagues who are in key leadership roles related to the system, including Stephen Streiffer, PhD, director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; David Sholl, PhD, executive vice chancellor for UT-ORII; and Maha Krishnamurthy, PhD, president of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. Dr. Snowden will partner with these stellar new leaders and with Dr. Crawford and the other vice chancellors for Research in pursuit of statewide collaborations that harness the talent and resources of UT and all its partners.

Dr. Snowden is also the newest in an impressive roster of outstanding senior recruitments to UT Health Science Center, who are setting the stage for future successes. These include Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Raaj Kurapati, AIFA; Vice Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships Paul Wesolowski, MBA; Vice Chancellor for Advancement Brigitte Grant, MBA; Dean of the College of Pharmacy Reginald Frye, PharmD, PhD; Dean of the College of Dentistry Ken Tilashalski, DMD; and UT System Chief Wellness Officer Jessie Gold, MD. New leadership at UT Health Science Center also includes excellent new deans at College of Medicine campuses, James Haynes, MD, in Chattanooga; Robert Craft, MD, in Knoxville; and Brian Wilcox, MD, associate dean of Clinical Affairs and Graduate Medical Education in Nashville.

Additionally, earlier this year, UT Health Science Center senior faculty were appointed to key leadership positions at affiliate institutions, further expanding the university’s impact on Tennessee’s health. College of Medicine Department of Surgery senior faculty member Keith Gray, MD, is the president and CEO of the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, and Trey Eubanks, MD, also a College of Medicine senior faculty member, is the president of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. 

Dr. Snowden comes to this new position with exemplary background and training. She received her medical degree from Texas A&M College of Medicine, and master’s degrees in health professions teaching and technology and in clinical and translational research from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. 

She also currently serves as the Horace C. Cabe Distinguished Chair in Infectious Disease at UAMS. A role model for younger scientists, she has been a UAMS Research Academy mentor, is a certified trainer for the Center for Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research, and is a graduate of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program, a highly sought-after and leading program for advancing and nurturing female leaders in academic medicine. She was selected by competitive application to participate in the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Early Career and Mid-Career Women in Medicine and Science Seminar.

Dr. Snowden is passionate about mentoring junior colleagues, and received the Emerging Research Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2023 and the American Academy of Pediatrics Special Achievement Award in 2022, and was one of eight selected mentors in the United States for the AAMC MOSAIC Mentor program. She was named an Arkansas Power Women in 2021.

Dr. Snowden is an elected member of the American Pediatric Society, a fellow of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society and chair of its Research Affairs Committee, and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The chancellor expressed deep appreciation to Wesley Byerly, PharmD, who has served as interim vice chancellor for Research. Dr. Byerly joined UT Health Science Center in 2022 as a senior associate vice chancellor for Research. “Wes has done an outstanding job fostering collaboration among the university’s research community and our research partners, as well as helping shape our research operation toward the strategic plan we adopted last year,” Chancellor Buckley said. “We are indebted to him for his stellar service and his great leadership, which we are delighted will continue in partnership with Jessica.”

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