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Institute of Medicine elects public health, infectious disease leader

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Holly Korschun

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has elected Carlos del Rio, MD, to its new class of 70 leading health scientists and 10 foreign associates. Del Rio is the Hubert Professor and chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health in the Rollins School of Public Health and professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. He is program director of the Emory AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) and co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).

Election to the IOM is one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

“I am honored to have been elected to the IOM,” says del Rio. “The IOM provides invaluable advice to the country on issues of health and public policy.”

Del Rio has been a member of five IOM committees that have made recommendations in areas such as resource allocation of Ryan White funds, biomedical HIV prevention trials, disability and HIV, and monitoring HIV care in the US.

"Carlos del Rio has been a tremendous force in medicine and public health, and Emory is very fortunate to count him as a faculty member, a trusted and giving clinician, a department chair, and an all-around university leader,” says Wright Caughman, MD, executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and chairman of Emory Healthcare. “His untiring work in Atlanta, nationally and globally to prevent, diagnose and treat some of our most challenging diseases and to educate the next generation of health providers has resulted in improved and extended lives for countless individuals.”

Del Rio is an attending physician in infectious diseases at both Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University Hospital, where he is the Infectious Diseases Service Chief, as well as in the Infectious Diseases Program of the Grady Health System. He teaches medical students and residents in Emory University School of Medicine, and teaches graduate students and leads an HIV/AIDS seminar for international trainees in the Rollins School of Public Health.

His research program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), focuses on access to care and decreasing barriers to care among HIV-infected persons, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations such as substance abusers in  the United States. He also directs the CDC-funded Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Program sentinel laboratory located at Emory. del Rio’s work in resource limited settings has focused on improving access to antiretroviral therapy and building human research capacity

Del Rio is principal investigator (PI) for the Atlanta site of the NIH-sponsored HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) and the Atlanta site leader for the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG), and he is an investigator for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN).   

A native of Mexico, del Rio attended medical school at Universidad La Salle, graduating in 1983. He completed his internal medicine and infectious disease residencies at Emory University School of Medicine. In 1989 he returned to Mexico, where he was executive director of the National AIDS Council of Mexico (CONASIDA, the Federal agency of the Mexican Government responsible for AIDS Policy throughout Mexico), from 1992 through 1996.

In 1996, del Rio joined the Emory School of Medicine faculty. From 2001 to 2009 he was chief of the Emory Medical Service at Grady Memorial Hospital. He has been chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health since 2009.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Antiviral Society-USA and of the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and was recently HIVMA vice chair. He is a member of the Department of Health and Human Services Panel for Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents, and of the Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatment of the CDC and the Health Resources and Services Administration. He is senior clinical editor for AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, associate editor of AIDS Clinical Care, and editorial board member of Global Public Health, Journal of AIDS and Women, and Children & HIV. He has co-authored more than 200 scientific papers.

Del Rio has received many awards, including selection by Atlanta Magazine as one of the 55 most influential foreign-born Atlantans (Oct 2007).  He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. del Rio is married to Jeannette Guarner, MD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

IOM members are elected by current active members through a highly selective process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health. The newly elected members raise IOM's total active membership to 1,753 and the number of foreign associates to 120, with an additional 93 members holding emeritus status.

The Institute of Medicine is unique in its structure as both an honorific membership organization and an advisory organization. Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, IOM has become recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues. With their election, members make a commitment to volunteer their service on IOM committees, boards and other activities.

For more information about the IOM and its new class of elected members, see the National Academies web site.

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