Emory University has appointed Carlos del Rio, MD, an internationally known clinician and epidemiologist, as interim dean for the Emory University School of Medicine. He will also serve as interim chief academic officer for Emory Healthcare. He will begin his role on March 1, when Vikas Sukhatme, MD, ScD, steps down as dean to return to the Emory faculty.
“Dr. Carlos Del Rio is an eminent global leader in medicine and public health, and I look forward to his contributions at this time of transition for the Emory School of Medicine,” says Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves. “He understands the role of our School of Medicine, and will build on the accomplishments of Dean Sukhatme who set this school on a course for continued success in its tripartite mission of education, research and clinical care.”
Currently, del Rio is the Leon L. Haley, Jr. MD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases for Emory School of Medicine and executive associate dean for Emory at Grady. He is also a professor of global health and professor of epidemiology in the Rollins School of Public Health. Del Rio is co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and co-PI of the Emory-CDC HIV Clinical Trials Unit and the Emory Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit. He previously served as chief of the Emory Medical Service at Grady Memorial Hospital from 2001 to 2009 and chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health from 2009 to 2019.
“Dr. del Rio is a renowned physician, researcher and epidemiologist who is dedicated to educating and training future physicians and protecting the health of individuals around the world,” says Ravi Thadhani, MD, MPH, Emory’s executive vice president for health affairs, executive director for the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and vice chair of the Emory Healthcare Board of Directors. “Under Dr. del Rio’s direction and leadership, Emory School of Medicine will continue to be a leader in academic medicine and further enhance the Woodruff Health Sciences Center’s mission to improve health outcomes, cure diseases and save lives.”
For more than two decades, del Rio has worked with marginalized populations to improve clinical care and outcomes in the U.S. and abroad and was recently recognized by the CDC Office of Minority Health and Health Equity as a Health Equity Champion. His work has focused on research, policy development and disseminating scientific findings regarding global public health crises such as COVID-19 and HIV prevention and the HIV continuum of care. Del Rio is currently the HIV/AIDS chief section editor for NEJM Journal Watch Infectious Diseases and member of the editorial board of Journal of AIDS, Vaccines and Global Public Health. He has co-authored 30 book chapters and over 500 scientific papers.
“Carlos del Rio is an outstanding scholar whose work has eased the global burden of HIV and other infectious diseases, as well as a passionate advocate for equitable health care for all,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University. “With his deep knowledge of Emory and commitment to best-in-class medical education, research and patient care, we are fortunate to have him serve as the interim dean of the School of Medicine, and look forward to his advancing the ambitious goals and progress the school has made under the leadership of Dean Vikas Sukhatme.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, del Rio advised municipal, state and national leaders and was a frequent source for international media to educate and inform the public about the ongoing health crisis. He currently serves on the national advisory committee of the COVID Collaborative, which focuses on developing consensus recommendations and engaging with U.S. leaders on effective policy and coronavirus response. He was also a member of the WHO Influenza A(H1N1) Clinical Advisory Group and of the CDC Influenza A(H1N1) Task Force during the 2009 pandemic.
Del Rio currently serves as president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He is also chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of PEPFAR and a member of the UNAIDS Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee. In 2022, del Rio was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2013 and elected as the International secretary of the National Academy of Medicine in 2020.
Among del Rio’s many honors are the James H. Nakano Citation received in 2001 and awarded by the CDC for an outstanding scientific paper published in 2000; the Emory University Marion V. Creekmore Achievement Award for Internationalization; the Thomas Jefferson Award from Emory University, the highest award conferred by Emory to a faculty or staff member who has significantly enriched the intellectual and civic life of the Emory community; the Ohtli Award from the Government of Mexico for work that benefits communities of Mexican origin living in the U.S.; the APHA Award for Excellence in Public Health; and the MAP International Bill Foege Global Health Award.
In 2021, he was recognized by the Carnegie Corporation of New York as a “Great Immigrant, Great American” and by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms with the Phoenix Award, the City of Atlanta’s highest honor, for his medical guidance and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Del Rio is a member of the board of directors of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and of the Atlanta Opera.
“I am honored and humbled to serve as interim dean of Emory School of Medicine and want to thank Dr. Sukhatme for his leadership as dean since 2017,” says del Rio. “As a physician who first came to Emory as a visiting medical student in 1982 and joined the faculty in 1996, I am committed to the institution and to our students, trainees, faculty and staff.
“As a Hispanic physician, I am deeply committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and look forward to working with all stakeholders to continue to advance Emory’s role as a leading institution in education, biomedical research and patient care.”
A native of Mexico, del Rio attended medical school at Universidad La Salle and completed internal medicine and infectious diseases residencies at Emory University. Prior to rejoining Emory in 1996, he served as executive director of the National AIDS Council of Mexico (CONASIDA, the federal agency of the Mexican government responsible for AIDS Policy throughout Mexico). Del Rio’s spouse, Jeannette Guarner, MD, is also a physician and Emory School of Medicine professor who serves as vice chair for faculty affairs in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
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