He Will Serve Four-Year Term on Advisory Committee that Sets Recommendations for COVID-19 Vaccines and Other Immunization Practices
Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FIDSA, FACP, Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), has been named a new voting member of the federal government’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the prestigious board of experts that makes recommendations on the safe use of vaccines for Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services selected Dr. Chen for the 15-member advisory committee based on his expertise and national leadership in vaccinology, infectious diseases, public health, and preventive medicine. He will remain in his current role at UMSOM while he serves in his four-year term, which began last month.
An internist and infectious disease physician-scientist with expertise in vaccinology, Dr. Chen has been instrumental in setting important policies to help the State of Maryland manage the COVID-19 pandemic during the past year. Last March, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan appointed Dr. Chen, along with David Marcozzi, MD, Professor and Associate Chair of Population Health, UMSOM Department of Emergency Medicine, and University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) COVID-19 Incident Commander, to be members of the state’s Coronavirus Response Team. This special panel has been advising the Governor and top administration officials on important health and emergency management decisions relating to management of the pandemic and vaccine distribution.
“Dr. Chen is a top national leader in public health issues and vaccine research, who is equally adept in the clinical world of treating and preventing infectious diseases, and in the research and development of innovative new vaccines,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “I can think of no one more fitting to serve on this important committee which helps set national vaccine policy.”
In addition to his faculty appointment at UMSOM, Dr. Chen is Chief of the Adult Clinical Studies section within the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health and Director of the Institution's Travel Medicine Practice. His research has been devoted to developing vaccines for enteric pathogens, infectious diseases chiefly of resource-poor and economically disadvantaged countries and populations. He also has worked to developed improved vaccines for the elderly, a rapidly growing segment of the global population, which is susceptible to many infections and a special population that generally responds poorly to vaccination.
“Dr. Chen will be an incredible asset to this important committee, bringing his gifted skills as a vaccine researcher, public health expert, and clinician,” said Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA, the Myron M. Levine, MD Distinguished Professor in Vaccinology and Director of CVD. “I have no doubt that the passion, intellect, and energy that he brings to all of his work will enable him to excel in this new role.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sets the U.S. adult and childhood immunization schedules based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Before recommending any vaccine, ACIP considers many factors, including the safety, effectiveness, and effect on health equity of each vaccine. The Committee is currently holding numerous emergency meetings to address COVID-19 vaccines. Under normal circumstances, there are three scheduled public full-committee meetings per year that vote on the recommendations for all U.S. approved vaccines. Meanwhile, the ACIP also conducts biweekly vaccine-specific workgroup meetings. These are held to review and assess the evidence for immunizations, which determine the proposed recommendations for the ACIP.
“I am incredibly honored to serve in this capacity and grateful for this opportunity to take on this vital public health role during one of the most challenging public health crises of the previous century,” said Dr. Chen.
Dr. Chen is an active investigator for two funded NIAID-supported vaccine networks housed at CVD – a Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) and a Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Center (CIVICs) Clinic Core. He was the principal investigator of the NIAID-supported Food and Waterborne Diseases Integrated Research Network Clinical Research Unit. He has been a principal investigator on vaccine trials for influenza viruses, bioterror agents, and intestinal microbes including typhoid, cholera, and life-threatening strains of E. coli. He has been at the UMSOM for nearly two decades and did his residency in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University Bayview Medical Center. He received his M.D. from Howard University College of Medicine and his B.A. at Boston University.
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 46 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs, and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.2 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has nearly $600 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 students, trainees, residents, and fellows. The combined School of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of over $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges profile) is an innovator in translational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-up companies. In the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of the Best Medical Schools, published in 2021, the UM School of Medicine is ranked #9 among the 92 public medical schools in the U.S., and in the top 15 percent (#27) of all 192 public and private U.S. medical schools. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu