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March 25, 2002


CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan Takes Key Leadership Position at Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center

Jeffrey P. Koplan, MD, MPH, outgoing Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will become the new Vice President for Academic Health Affairs at Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC), effective April 22. The announcement was made by Michael M. E. Johns, MD, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Director of The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and Chief Executive Officer of Emory Healthcare.

As the chief academic and research officer on Dr. Johns' senior leadership team, Dr. Koplan will work with Dr. Johns to plan, direct, and advance the WHSC's research and academic strategies across the schools of medicine, nursing, public health; the Yerkes Primate Research Center; and Emory Healthcare's extensive network of clinics, hospitals, and community health centers, the most comprehensive health care system in Atlanta.

Dr. Johns says, "Dr. Koplan's decision to join our leadership team is a perfect match at the perfect time. He brings the vision, expertise, research and program leadership to help move the Woodruff Health Sciences Center through the next phase of its development."

In the past six years, in addition to a complete restructuring of the healthcare enterprise, Emory's health sciences center has aggressively strengthened its research and educational programs. Awards for sponsored research have more than doubled to over $233 million annually. The most extensive building program in the University's history has resulted in extensive restructuring and enhancement of the research infrastructure, and innovations and new resources have been introduced to all health professions educational programs. Emory now faces a new set of challenges in further developing research and educational programs to meet a changing healthcare environment and to take advantage of new research opportunities.

Dr. Johns says, "Jeff is an extraordinary leader, both statesman and scientist, who leads the premier health agency in the world with distinction, and who thinks and acts with a global perspective. He personifies the interdisciplinary spirit that we seek at Emory, and he has become the nation's leading spokesperson for the integration of public health into medicine and nursing and for broadening the way health professionals approach healthcare. His leadership in both the public sector at CDC and the private sector at Prudential Center for Health Care Research dramatically changed health-related research and the health of the nation. We are pleased and honored to have him with us."

Dr. Koplan says, "As with my tenure at the CDC, I particularly enjoy being at an institution that strives for excellence and making an international contribution to health. I have a longstanding relationship with, and admiration for, Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and I know the WHSC offers excellence, growth and much more, under Mike Johns' leadership. As Vice President for Academic Health Affairs, I look forward to enhancing the symbiosis between the schools and research programs of the WHSC and to strengthening its partnerships with the CDC, American Cancer Society, Georgia Research Alliance, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and other key research organizations and institutions."

As director of CDC from 1998 until the end of this month, Dr. Koplan leads the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency responsible for promoting health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. CDC's eleven centers, institutes and program offices work closely with local, state and federal health agencies and private sector partners to protect the public's health and promote healthy lifestyles.

This new position is not his first foray into the private sector. He joined The Prudential Center for Health Care Research in 1994, as Executive Vice President and director, and served as president from 1995-1998. Dr. Koplan served as a clinical professor in Emory's School of Medicine for 12 years and has had an appointment in Emory's Rollins School of Public Health since its founding in 1990. He also holds academic appointments at Morehouse Medical School, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health, and has been a visiting lecturer at many other universities and health sciences schools.

As Vice President for Academic Health Affairs, Dr. Koplan follows David Blake, PhD, who in 1997, soon after Dr. Johns arrived to head Emory's health sciences center, took what was then a new position. Working with Dr. Johns and key University and Woodruff Health Sciences Center leaders, Dr. Blake helped reshape the research infrastructure, develop and strengthen important research relationships, and identify and set into motion priority research initiatives, such as cancer and genomics. He resigned in January to focus on his consulting practice. Dr. Koplan will build on these achievements to begin a new era, says Dr. Johns.

In addition to advising and working on the overall thrust forward of the WHSC, Dr. Koplan expects to look closely at several initiatives underway at Emory to which he brings special expertise:

- Health outcomes research. As Executive Vice President and Director, and then President, of the Prudential Center for Health Care Research from 1994 to 1998, Dr. Koplan built the center into a nationally-recognized health services and outcomes research organization, and he has continued to write and publish in this area. The new Emory Center on Health Outcomes and Quality is one of the largest groups in the nation in health research directed at measuring and assessing the quality of health care with the aim of improving medical diagnoses.

- International health. Dr. Koplan's career has had a global impact and focus, not only at the CDC but as a consultant to the World Bank and the World Health Organization and through his work in cardiovascular health in Finland, infectious and chronic disease issues in China, and chronic diseases in Hungary, for example. At Emory, he will turn his global perspective and experience toward blending the extensive international resources in Emory's schools of medicine, nursing, public health, Yerkes, and the clinical programs into a more comprehensive international effort.

- Biotechnology. Emory is working with the Georgia Research Alliance, governmental leaders, other Georgia research universities, and industry to enhance Georgia's development as a leader in biomedical technology. This effort has large economic development significance, and it also will allow Georgians to be among the first to benefit from new discoveries in genomics, proteomics, biomedical engineering, and the ability to tailor treatments to individual patients. Dr. Johns looks forward to drawing from Dr. Koplan's extensive experience in creating successful partnerships among public, private, voluntary, and research organizations.

- Cancer. Dr. Koplan brings to Emory considerable experience in cancer and cancer prevention, especially cancer detection, having established a national breast and cervical cancer early detection program at the CDC that now reaches every state in the nation. He will provide invaluable support to Emory's Winship Cancer Institute and the Institute's partnership with Governor Roy Barnes' Georgia Cancer Coalition. He also brings great expertise in other related priority research areas at Emory, including health disparities in cancer and other diseases and tobacco use prevention.

- Vaccines for AIDS and emerging infectious diseases. Perhaps more than anyone else in the world, Dr. Koplan has worked to combat established and emerging infectious diseases including AIDS, anthrax, malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, smallpox, tuberculosis, and many of the newer diseases that threaten humankind such as Ebola and West Nile virus. Vaccines are one of the highest priorities in Emory's new strategic research plan, and preclinical studies at the broadly-based Emory Vaccine Center have shown that a HIV-vaccine developed at Emory is a promising candidate to control HIV infection in humans.

- Bioterrorism. At the CDC, Dr. Koplan was in a unique leadership position to take the country through its first bioterrorism event. Based on Emory's own resources in infectious disease, emergency medicine, vaccines, public health and other areas, including a new Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research, and based on its strong partnerships with the CDC and state and local public health resources, the Woodruff Health Sciences Center has made bioterrorism one of its priorities.

Dr. Koplan holds a BA degree in English from Yale University, an MD from Mt.. Sinai School of Medicine and an MPH from Harvard University's School of Public Health. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Montefiore Hospital in New York and Stanford University Hospital and in preventive medicine at the CDC. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine.

He joined the CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer in 1972, working in the smallpox eradication program, including six months as a World Health Organization advisor in Bangladesh. He served as a medical epidemiologist in the infectious diseases section of the California State Department of Health and in the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre in Trinidad. Returning to the CDC in 1978, he served in various positions including director of the Preventive Medicine Residency Program, Director of the Center for Health Promotion and Education, Director and Assistant Surgeon General for the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. After serving as Executive Vice President and Director, then President of The Prudential Center for Health Care Research, he was named Director of the CDC.

Dr. Koplan has won numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award given by the U.S. Public Health Service, and election to membership in the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences.

His wife, Carol Koplan, MD, is an adjunct assistant professor in the Rollins School of Public Health and their daughter Kate is a third year medical student at Emory. The Koplans' son, Adam, is a graduate student in theater directing in Seattle.

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