Expert in global health to join Stanford Medicine faculty

Gary Darmstadt will study the effects of reducing gender inequality, ensuring child survival and nurturing children’s growth on overall community health in developing countries.

Gary Darmstadt

Global health expert Gary Darmstadt, MD, will join the Stanford University School of Medicine faculty as a professor of pediatrics. His first day on the job will be Feb. 23.

Darmstadt, a former senior fellow and director of family health in the Global Development Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will help lead the school’s efforts to improve the health of women and children around the world.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Gary to Stanford,” said Hugh O’Brodovich, MD, professor and chair of pediatrics and director of the Child Health Research Institute at Stanford. “His experience in directing programs and research that advance global health care for women and children will be a tremendous asset.” O’Brodovich is also the Adalyn Jay Physician-in-Chief at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, a part of Stanford Children’s Health.

“Gary will help bring special attention to the global impact of preterm birth, which is now the leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age worldwide,” said David Stevenson, MD, the school’s senior associate dean for maternal and child health. Darmstadt will be joining the efforts of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford, Stevenson noted.

Before working at the Gates Foundation, Darmstadt held faculty positions at the University of Washington and at Johns Hopkins, where he was the founding director of the International Center for Advancing Neonatal Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. His prior experience also includes working with Save the Children, a nongovernmental organization, to direct the research programs of the first major global initiative that addressed newborn survival in low-resource settings. That program, which was funded by the Gates Foundation, played a significant role in putting newborn health on the international public health agenda.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Stanford to join a world-class group of colleagues in a diversity of disciplines across the university to tackle major global health challenges facing women, children and families,” Darmstadt said. “I’m also very excited to teach, mentor and seek to inspire Stanford’s gifted students — the next generation of innovators in global health.”

Stanford training

Darmstadt completed a residency in dermatology at Stanford in 1995. Already trained as a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins when he arrived, he studied how infectious disease manifested in the skin, and how dermatologic signs of disease could provide insights into health status and give clues to new interventions to improve the survival, health and development of children in impoverished parts of the world. That research helped to catalyze his broader interests in promoting health in developing countries, he said.

“Gary has made a significant impact on neonatal health worldwide, particularly by championing the use of chlorhexidine for umbilical cord cleansing, and by developing community-based guidelines for the essentials of newborn care,” said Michele Barry, MD, professor of medicine and director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health. “We are so glad to have him join us.”

In his new role, Darmstadt will collaborate with several other Stanford experts in international medicine, including Barry and Yvonne Maldonado, MD, professor of pediatrics and of health research and policy.

He plans to study how to reduce gender inequality in developing countries in order to improve community health. Darmstadt will also examine ways of ensuring healthy birth, growth and development of children in these countries. “As child survival rates improve, we need to focus more on optimizing the neurodevelopment and productivity of children so that they have opportunities to grow up and make contributions that will help bring their countries out of poverty,” he said.

Within the Department of Pediatrics, Darmstadt will work in the Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine and the Division of Infectious Diseases. He also will be an associate dean for maternal and child health, reporting to Stevenson, and will co-direct the Department of Pediatrics’ Global Health Initiative. 


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