The appointment marks an important milestone in the relationship between the School of Medicine and Wellforce, the parent health system of the School of Medicine’s principal teaching-hospital affiliate, Tufts Medical Center. In this dual role, Helen will be a catalyst for our institutions, strengthening our research alliances, enhancing the student experience, and bringing more research and teaching opportunities to Wellforce communities. She will report both to the president of Tufts University and to the president and chief executive officer of Tufts Medical Center. She will also join the senior leadership teams of both Tufts University and Wellforce.
Helen will manage the Wellforce and School of Medicine research portfolios under one strategic umbrella, facilitating the integration and growth of our research enterprise. She will also have responsibility for continuing the implementation of the School of Medicine’s strategic plan that was developed under the leadership of Dean ad interim Peter Bates.
As a strong leader who has demonstrated her ability to innovate as a founding director of the Stuart B. Levy Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance (Levy CIMAR), Helen has a wealth of experience to draw on in leading this alignment effort. She has collaborated with many of Tufts’ basic and translational scientists at the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. She has been a constant professional resource to clinicians throughout the Wellforce system and an outstanding member of the Wellforce Board of Trustees. She knows the people of the university and the culture of Tufts Medical Center and Wellforce, and is well positioned to advance the shared missions of our organizations.
Helen’s clinical and academic experience, including 14 years as director of Tufts Medical Center’s Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program and two years as chief of the Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases, makes her well-suited to oversee the full spectrum of physician education, from pre-clinical work in the first and second years of MD training to the hospital rotations that dominate the second half of the curriculum. These experiences and her more than 25 years as a practicing physician enable her to see new and innovative opportunities to improve the health of diverse members of our communities.
Helen earned an undergraduate degree in English from College of the Holy Cross and a medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. She is internationally known for her research on infections in immunocompromised patients and infections by S. aureus, one of the most dangerous of the staph bacteria, for which she has investigated new anti-infective agents.
During the pandemic, she has shown herself to be a leader, not only helping guide the system’s response but serving as a national media resource for questions about the virus, translating the latest scientific information about transmission—and later, vaccination—into actionable advice for the public.
As director of the medical center’s Heart Transplant and Ventricular Assist Device Infectious Diseases Program, she has seen the dangers that uncontrolled infections place on vulnerable patients. Her research focus became an institutional mission in 2018, when she became a founding director of Levy CIMAR, a cross-disciplinary initiative between the university and the medical center aimed at combating antimicrobial resistance not only through research, but through education and policy. Through her testimony on Capitol Hill, she has been a forceful, science-backed voice for changing national policies on antibiotic use.
Peter Bates, who will be stepping down as dean ad interim at the end of this month, has done an extraordinary job of steering the School of Medicine through unprecedented challenges. In the midst of the pandemic, the school ensured that our medical students received the highest caliber of education, while caring for the emotional and physical welfare of those students. Peter also embraced the mission of making Tufts an antiracist institution, working with School of Medicine students and faculty to take substantial steps toward dismantling systemic racism.
Please join us in thanking Peter for his service and in welcoming Helen to her new position.