Wilson Selected as First Holder of the Richard M. Fairbanks Endowed Chair
January 20, 2011
- Rich Schneider
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Gregory A. Wilson, M.D., has been selected as the first holder of the Richard M. Fairbanks Endowed Chair, which was established by the Fairbanks Foundation as part of its $20 million grant to establish a school of public health at IUPUI.
The purpose of the chair is to support Wilson’s leadership in developing the planned school of public health’s community and global health programs. When the school is formed, he will serve as the first Associate Dean for Community and Mental Health.
Wilson is a 1975 graduate of the IU School of Medicine. He joined the faculty in 1979 and has worn many hats during his medical career, all directed at improving the health of children. In 1979, at the start of his career, he founded the Indiana Poison Control Center and served as its medical director until 1983. He also has been a public health pediatrician in Appalachia, director of the Pediatric Intensive Case Management Program at Wishard Memorial Hospital, section director of Developmental Pediatrics at Riley Hospital, and co-founder of the Riley Robotic Rehabilitation Center. He also has served as president of the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
He was involved with the development of the state’s First Steps program, which emphasizes early intervention for children with developmental disabilities and at-risk infants and toddlers. He was one of the first pediatricians at IU to be board certified in neurodevelopmental disabilities.
In 2001, Governor Frank O’Bannon named him State Health Commissioner at the Indiana State Department of Health, where he served a four-year term before returning to the IU faculty. As Commissioner, he strengthened county and state public health infrastructure, established programs focused on reducing health disparities, especially in chronic diseases, established an Office of Environmental Public Health, a web-based immunization registry, and improved state systems that support public health preparedness and bioterrorism response.
Wilson was selected to hold this first endowed chair in public health in recognition of his statewide leadership in public and community health in Indiana, according to Dr. G. Marie Swanson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Health at IUPUI. Swanson is also Chair of the Department of Public Health in the IU School of Medicine and is leading efforts to form the school of public health at IUPUI.
“It was very rewarding to me to read the letters that were written in support of his nomination for the Fairbanks Chair,” Swanson said. “The support letters praised his leadership in many ways, at the state level and within the university. His leadership as the Indiana State Health Commissioner was lauded as exemplary and as improving the health of significant components of the Indiana populations. His leadership in developing our department and placing us firmly on the path to becoming a school of public health also was highlighted. And of course his leadership role in improving the health of children in Indianapolis and across the state also was recognized.”