April 17, 2015

Saag tapped to lead global health initiatives in Medicine

Written by
Mike SaagInternationally renowned HIV researcher Michael Saag, M.D., professor of Medicine and director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research, has been named associate dean of Global Health in the UAB School of Medicine, a step in the school’s commitment to broaden UAB’s worldwide reach and further its global health mission.

In this new role, Saag will develop new international research and service learning opportunities for students and faculty, strengthen established global health partnerships and work with UAB’s campus-wide global health initiatives.

Saag said he’s excited about the opportunity to lead the School of Medicine forward in these efforts, saying there are many opportunities for faculty and trainees to begin engaging meaningfully with an organized international agenda.

 “We live in a global village. Maybe 100 years ago, we may not have been as individually well-versed in issues going on beyond our borders, but now because of the Internet and relatively easy travel, I think it’s easier for us to perceive and address international needs in healthcare,” he said. “With the School of Medicine’s strategic focus of being the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century, we have to be engaged globally.”

He will work with Rubin Pillay, Ph.D., M.D., assistant dean for Global Health Innovation in the School of Medicine, in identifying and mapping themes in global health and international engagements across faculty and establishing a global health resource center. The School of Medicine has several active global partnerships, including in Zambia and Saudi Arabia, and with Gorgas Memorial Institute in Peru and the Kwazulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV in Durban, South Africa.

 “Dr. Saag is a world-class physician-scientist in his research and compassionate patient care in HIV and has proven leadership in directing the Center for AIDS Research and in founding the 1917 Clinic,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., F.A.C.S., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. “His expertise is essential in growing the school’s global health program in a strategic way and ensuring that we’re playing a role in global citizenship.”

Saag came to Birmingham in 1981 to complete his residency training in internal medicine and infectious diseases. He joined the faculty in 1987 and founded the UAB 1917 (AIDS) Outpatient Clinic, a comprehensive HIV outpatient clinic, in 1988. Considered a leader in antiretroviral therapy development, Saag has published more than 350 articles in peer reviewed journals and directed the ‘first-in- patient’ studies of 7 of the 25 antiretroviral drugs currently on the market for HIV patients.

He’s won numerous awards, including the 2014 Castle-Connolly National Physician of the Year Award for Clinical Excellence, the Myrtle Wreath Award from Hadassah, was inducted into the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame in 2014, and was awarded the 2010 President’s Medal of UAB, the highest honored bestowed at the university. He’s also won multiple Argus Awards, voted on by students at the School of Medicine to honor their professors and mentors for outstanding service in medical education.