2018 President-Elect candidate
Chandy C. John, MD, FASTMH
Indiana University, IN
I have had an interest in tropical medicine and global health most of my life, inspired from the start by the work of my parents, both doctors at a mission hospital in India that focused on care for the underserved. As part of my medical training, I did clinical work in Bangladesh, Nigeria and Laos. The enormous health burden I saw of malaria in children, particularly in Nigeria, cemented my decision to pursue a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship.
I attended my first ASTMH meeting in 1996 as a pediatric infectious diseases fellow. I was amazed at the community I found there. I was just beginning to do research on how malaria transmission affects immunity, and the depth and quality of research and clinical education in malaria and in all areas of tropical medicine floored me. I learned, over the next few meetings, to pace myself because the sessions were a banquet of riches, and I could get “overstuffed” trying to attend every one that held my interest. What I particularly loved about this meeting was that Society members at all levels were eager to help out a pediatric infectious diseases fellow just starting his research career. There was a feeling that we were all in this together, and whatever helped one member helped the others.
For the past 20 years, I’ve worked on malaria research, global child health and global health education with partners in Kenya and Uganda, and I have been delighted at the growing international reach and membership of ASTMH. I have learned a great deal from my Ugandan and Kenyan colleagues, and value the strong and consistent collaboration which has contributed to our mutual success. I’ve also been pleased to see the tremendous growth in interest in global health and tropical medicine among trainees at all levels. I believe that ASTMH is the best forum for development and dissemination of knowledge in tropical medicine and global health. For this reason, we must work aggressively to make sure that trainees, universities, professional organizations, individual researchers, clinicians and educators view ASTMH as the “go to” and leader organization in tropical medicine and global health.
In an era when the importance of tropical medicine, global health, and international collaboration are being questioned, my highest priority as president of ASTMH would be to work with our executive leadership to communicate to the public and our elected leaders why tropical medicine and global health are important, and to advocate for support for tropical medicine and global health research and education. Other key priorities would be to: 1) expand, promote and disseminate outstanding tropical medicine and global health clinical, basic science, translational and public health research through our Annual Meeting; 2) grow, highlight and promote the clinical training and research work of the society; 3) increase the international composition and leadership of our Society; 4) recruit a diverse group of new members, particularly trainees, and engage those members in ways that are most meaningful to them; and 5) further develop endowment funds to support the ongoing work of the Society and Society awards. Like ASTMH presidents before me, I will work closely with the outstanding leadership we have in each of the individual committees and sub-groups to further their work and develop new strategies to accomplish the Society's goals.
Finally, it is understood but not always stated that an underlying goal of our work in tropical medicine and global health is service to and advocacy for underserved communities and individuals. I believe that underpins what we do as a Society, and it is a core value that is more critical now than ever.
Summary of Volunteer/Member Roles in ASTMH
Like many members of ASTMH, I am a clinician, researcher and educator, and each of these areas is important to me. I am committed to furthering the excellence of the Society in research, education and clinical care, and have worked in each of these areas as an ASTMH committee member or chair. In the area of research, I served on the Scientific Program Committee as leader of the malaria immunology section. In the area of clinical tropical medicine, I served as a Clinical Group Council member and currently serve on the Clinical Standards and Treatment Guidelines Committee. In the area of education, I served as chair of the Benjamin Kean Travel Fellowship committee for 6 years, and also served on the strategic task force assessing future directions for the Annual Meeting. I’ve learned a lot about how the Society works and accomplishes its goals through service on these committees.
I’ve enjoyed all of the service opportunities I’ve been given at ASTMH, but have found my work as Chair of the Benjamin Kean Travel fellowship particularly fulfilling. Dr. Kean’s work in tropical medicine, and particularly tropical education, served as a tremendous inspiration. But my interactions with the medical students who received these awards were equally inspiring. Several of these students have gone on, even within the 6 years of my tenure as chair, to do major work in research or education or clinical projects in tropical medicine. My experience on the Kean Committee reinforced my belief that development of training and learning opportunities for students at all levels and fostering an interest in these students in global health and tropical medicine should be a high priority for the Society.
Chandy John, MD, is the Ryan White Professor of Pediatrics and director of the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and Global Health at Indiana University. Dr. John joined the faculty at Indiana University in 2015, after serving as director of the Division of Global Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota for 10 years. Dr. John’s research focuses on malaria pathogenesis, immunology and epidemiology. Key discoveries of his collaborative research team include: 1) the first prospective studies to establish that severe malaria is associated with long-term cognitive impairment in children, 2) identification of immunologic factors that increase risk of severe malaria and cognitive impairment after severe malaria; and 3) determination of geographic and immunologic factors that affect risk of malaria in areas of unstable malaria transmission. He conducts research and training in Kenya in collaboration with colleagues at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and in Uganda in collaboration with colleagues at Makerere University. He is the author of more than 130 peer-reviewed publications and 30 book chapters. Dr. John serves on the Thrasher Research Fund Scientific Advisory Committee, and has served on or chaired numerous NIH, national and international study sections and review boards. Dr. John’s awards include the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award (2004), and the Bailey K. Ashford Medal from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene for contributions to tropical medicine research (2011).
Dr. John is an active clinician, specializing in pediatric infectious diseases, tropical medicine and travel medicine. As an educator, Dr. John was co-director of global health residency tracks in pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Minnesota, and co-director of the Morris Green Physician-Scientist Training Program at Indiana University. Dr. John has been an ASTMH member since 1996, and was elected a Fellow of ASTMH in 2015.