News Release: Research , School of Medicine

Apr. 1,  2009

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Names Paul W. Spearman, MD, as Chief Research Officer

Spearman Also Named Vice Chair of Research for Emory Department of Pediatrics

News Article ImagePaul W. Spearman, MD

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center have appointed Paul W. Spearman, MD, as Chief Research Officer for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and as Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Pediatrics, Emory School of Medicine. Spearman, who was selected following a nationwide search of candidates, has been Division Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Emory since November 2005, when he joined Emory from Vanderbilt University's Department of Pediatrics. 

"Dr. Spearman is a visionary leader with a deep understanding of the world of research and the institutional relationships that will be involved in developing this research enterprise,"says Donna Hyland, president and CEO at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "He is passionate, with a profound sense of commitment and concern about the overall success of Emory University's Department of Pediatrics and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and will drive discovery of new knowledge to promote the health of Georgia's children as part of Vision 2018.”

"The appointment of Paul Spearman by Children's and Emory solidifies the longstanding relationship and commitment of these two institutions to expanding our research partnership aimed at medical advancements that will significantly impact the health of children in Georgia and throughout the world,"says Fred Sanfilippo, MD, PhD, Emory executive vice president for health affairs and CEO of Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center.

In December 2007, the Children's Board of Trustees approved its initial research strategic plan and vision and designated funds from its endowment to begin implementation of the plan to position Children's as a top-tier pediatric research enterprise, working in collaboration with Academic and Research Institutions such as Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others. Part of that plan was the recruitment of a Chief Research Officer who also would serve as the Vice Chair of research for the Emory Department of Pediatrics, to drive the implementation of the plan and develop the research infrastructure. 

"Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is a key research partner for Emory University,"says David S. Stephens, MD, vice president for research in Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "Paul Spearman is an outstanding researcher and scientific leader who can guide this partnership forward as both institutions work to improve the health of children.”

Spearman has an extensive research background in infectious diseases, with a special interest in HIV pathogenesis and HIV vaccine development. At Vanderbilt, he was principal investigator of the HIV Vaccine Trials Unit. He currently serves on the Internal Advisory Board for the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). He has served on numerous national scientific committees and currently is a member of the NIH AIDS Molecular and Cellular Biology Study Section. He was chair of the National Institutes of Health Special Emphasis Panel for HIV Vaccine Design and Development in 2004 and a member of the National Cancer Institute Council of Scientific Advisors from 2006 to 2009. He currently supervises four NIH-funded research projects in his laboratory.

"Medical research puts the best intentions of humankind into action, methodically moving forward to establish a pathway of discovery—and better outcomes. It is with much excitement that we welcome Dr. Spearman to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta," said Jay Berkelhamer, MD, Chief Academic Officer, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  This goal of discovery cannot be achieved alone. Luckily, Children's now has Dr. Spearman and is surrounded by some of the leading colleges in the nation for medical research and technological advancements.”

"I am very excited about the appointment of Dr. Spearman to his new roles of Chief Research Officer for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and Vice Chair for Research with the Emory Department of Pediatrics,"says Barbara J. Stoll, MD, George W. Brumley, Jr. Professor and Chair, Emory Department of Pediatrics, and President and CEO of the Emory-Children's Center. "Paul's appointment will usher in a new era for pediatric research at both Children's and Emory.  He is a well-respected investigator whose experience in Atlanta with both institutions has equipped him with the understanding and tools needed to enhance pediatric research in Georgia. His appointment will help strengthen the relationship between Children's and Emory and assist in our shared commitment to transforming pediatric healthcare.”

Guiding that cross-system approach to research will be one of the more exciting opportunities facing Spearman as he moves forward to more fully develop the Children's research strategic plan and begin identifying research priorities with the support of key stakeholders from Children's and Emory.

Spearman received his MD degree from U.T. Southwestern Medical School in 1986. He completed specialty training in pediatrics and internal medicine at Ohio State University and Columbus Children's Hospital. Spearman spent four years at Washington University in St. Louis as an infectious diseases fellow and instructor in medicine. In 1995 he was appointed assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Division. At Vanderbilt, Spearman began a career focused on HIV assembly and HIV vaccine development, funded by the NIH and private agencies.

The appointment of Spearman coincides with the opening of the new Children's Pediatric Research Center, located on the Children's at Egleston campus. The center creates new opportunities for clinical research at Children's, and is available as a resource for physicians from throughout Children's and Emory.

The center is a new clinical interaction research site of the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute, a multi-institutional partnership supported by the National Institutes of Health and led by Emory University, along with Morehouse School of Medicine and Georgia Tech. 

The center is designed to provide the necessary infrastructure for investigators conducting pediatric clinical research to improve the quality of care and develop better treatments for Georgia's pediatric population. It includes a four-bed inpatient research unit, a four-bed outpatient research unit, a core research lab and research pharmacy services. Howard Katzenstein, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Emory School of Medicine and pediatric oncologist with the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service of Children's, is medical director of the center. Visit for more information about the Children's Pediatric Research Center. 


Children's Healthcare of Atlanta 

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to enhancing the lives of children through excellence in patient care, research and education. Managing more than half a million patient visits annually at three hospitals and 16 neighborhood locations, Children's is one of the largest clinical care providers for children in the country. Children's offers access to more than 30 pediatric specialties and is ranked among the top children's hospitals by Parents magazine and U.S.News & World Report. With generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children's has made an impact in the lives of children in Georgia, the United States and throughout the world. Visit or call 404-250-KIDS for more information.    


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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