Pediatric infectious disease researcher Jon McCullers, M.D., has been appointed the sixth chair of the Department of Pediatrics for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and pediatrician-in-chief for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. He will began his role March 1, succeeding Russell Chesney, M.D., who served as chairman since 1988.
An adjunct faculty member at UTHSC and full faculty member of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr. McCullers is an accomplished translational researcher who has built a National Institutes of Health-funded laboratory focused on the study of co-infections. He has made important discoveries on the interactions between influenza viruses and bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that result in fatal pneumonia. His recruitment represents a new level of engagement between UT Health Science Center, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“We believe Dr. McCullers will continue to build a world-class academic pediatric department and forge enduring relationships between the University, Le Bonheur and St. Jude,” said Le Bonheur President and CEO Meri Armour, MSN, MBA. “In his new role, he will drive our research efforts, enhance our residency programs and care for our children.”
An avid researcher, his work at St. Jude included research into the mechanisms of primary viral and secondary bacterial infections. This research is important because secondary infections in children are sometimes more deadly than the primary infection. He is also the primary investigator for a $3.2 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researching Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community (EPIC), to determine both the incidence and cause of community-acquired pneumonia in hospitalized children.
“As a distinguished physician scientist, we believe Dr. McCullers is a role model for future faculty in the Department of Pediatrics,” said UTHSC College of Medicine Executive Dean David M. Stern, M.D. “His tenure will include collaborative efforts among the three institutions on a scale that represents recognition of the common purpose of these organizations in providing exquisite care, academic excellence and community engagement. Dr. McCullers will lead our efforts to deliver differentiated care through discovery and evidence-based pathways that can impact the health care of children here and throughout the nation.”
“Dr. McCullers is an outstanding physician-scientist who has led clinical studies at St. Jude that have enhanced our ability to effectively immunize children with cancer against influenza. His work to strengthen our infection control program has positioned St. Jude among the top children’s hospitals, an important and remarkable achievement because of our at-risk population,” said Dr. William E. Evans, CEO and Director, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “As much as we are sorry to lose Dr. McCullers from our full time faculty, we are delighted that the University of Tennessee has been able to recruit such an outstanding leader for the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. McCullers is the kind of academic physician who will lead the Department of Pediatrics to the next level while synergizing with our programs at St. Jude. His vision for the department is strongly aligned with the shared commitment to excellence in child health among UT, Le Bonheur and St. Jude, and his leadership will help take our long-standing collaboration to new heights in the coming years.”
Dr. McCullers is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and serves on the IDSA Pandemic Task Force, advising the United States government on issues pertaining to bioterrorism and the threat of severe acute respiratory infection outbreaks.
A native of the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, Dr. McCullers graduated from The University of Virginia in 1989. He received his medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he also completed his internship and residency. Dr. McCullers also completed a pediatric infectious disease fellowship at UTHSC and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Dr. McCullers and his wife, pediatrician Dr. Lauren Mitchell, have two young boys.