May 2021 Message from the Chief – Division of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology

Michael Nelson, MD

Michael Nelson, MD

The May installment of the DoM Medicine Matters newsletter marks the first during my tenure as Chief of the Division of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology. I want to take the opportunity to shine a light on the many varied and exciting things happening within our Division. I also want to express my deep appreciation for the chance to try to fill the very large footprints that continue to be laid by Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, who has so expertly led this Division for nearly three decades. I am grateful that Tom will continue being an active member of the Division, leading our research arm and his extraordinary work on alpha-gal allergy.

The following pages will showcase some of the activities currently underway, or beginning shortly, by our dynamic and dedicated group of faculty members. Since my arrival, I have been even more impressed by the tremendous dedication, brilliance, collaborative focus, and achievements by one and all. There is no wonder why our Division continues to be so highly regarded nationally and internationally alike.

I want to extend my sincere thanks to all who have welcomed me since my arrival on grounds in November of 2020. Having returned to UVA after retiring from my over 25-year military and medical career, I found many aspects of UVA, the DoM, and the Medical Center to be familiar and welcoming. In contrast, a great many other things have changed and changed for the better. I remember looking out of my 5th-floor pharmacology floor window (in the original wing of what was then called Jordan Hall), watching the “new” Hospital and the Link be built from the ground up. It is exciting to see the continued progress, from a renamed Pinn Hall currently undergoing needed renovation to the brand new Battle building housing our Division’s Modell Foundation Pediatric Primary Immune Deficiency Clinic. The call to join this Division, and return to UVA, was the only opportunity that would have enticed me to leave great family, friends, and professional opportunities in the DC metropolitan area. What I see that has not changed is the passion that our Division, and our Department, has for providing cutting-edge research and high-quality patient care that I witnessed first-hand as an MD and PhD student so many moons ago.

I look forward to giving back to the institution that put me on the path to a very successful career in military medicine and in the specialty of allergy and immunology.

In reviewing our featured article from last year, we had only just begun our COVID-19 pandemic battle. Here we stand, one year later, and the battle continues. I am proud to be a part of a large, strong academic institution and Department who have been at the forefront of providing such great care to the patients we are privileged to treat, all while leading cutting-edge research that is helping patients worldwide. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this Division that has pivoted to conduct meaningful research on COVID-19 diagnostics and vaccine immune response while continuing to be national leaders in allergic and immunologic disease research. It is also no wonder why the Allergy-Immunology Fellowship program, led by Dr. Monica Lawrence, is so highly competitive and continues its long legacy of producing leaders in our specialty.

Our Division personnel has answered the call in these desperate times. I am extremely proud of our clinical arm from the many faculty, fellows, nursing, and access associates who have answered the call to be a valuable resource to UVA Health patients in need. Our attendings have volunteered for additional inpatient duties during peak hospitalizations and provided expert consultations on admitted patients.

I am also particularly proud of the leading role in COVID-19 immunizations our faculty and nursing personnel has embraced and taken to new levels since my arrival. From volunteering for vaccination clinics at ERC or in the community to creating a specialty vaccination clinic for high-risk patients, our Division personnel has stepped up to be a UVA institutional and regional patient resource. Being at the forefront of military health system vaccine programs for most of my career, I am so excited to see our Division work with our many colleagues at UVA to offer the very best for our patients regarding vaccine health.

While there appears a shining light on the horizon of hope and a life after this pandemic, our Division recognizes that the finish line remains well into the future. There is a lot of clinical and research work ahead. We, collectively, must remain diligent. I am 100% confident that the Division of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology will continue to lead by example and meaningfully contribute to paving the way for successfully conquering this pandemic. ~ Michael Nelson, MD

Filed Under: News and Notes, Profiles, Publications, Research

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