By Tina Mankowski & Justin Reedy
News & Community Relations
Dr. King Holmes, a world leader in AIDS and infectious disease research and training, will become the first chair of the University of Washington’s new Department of Global Health Nov. 1. Holmes is the director of the UW Center for AIDS & STD, head of the UW International Training and Education Center on HIV, and the chief of the Division of Allergy and Infectious Disease at Harborview Medical Center.
Holmes will lead the UW’s innovative new department, which is a shared venture of the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health and Community Medicine. The department was created earlier this year with a $20 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a substantial commitment from the UW. It is the only department of global health in the United States run by both a medical school and a school of public health.
“We are very grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their gift and endowment to launch the UW Department of Global Health, to the University for its further commitment to global health, and to the vision of the Schools of Medicine and of Public Health in taking this on as a joint venture,” said Holmes. “We hope to involve every single school at the UW in the new department.”
Holmes is the founding director of the Center for AIDS & STD, which was created in 1989 to help fight the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. He has guided the center through its growth into one of the world’s leading AIDS research and training institutions, with 265 UW and affiliate faculty members and 65 graduate students around the Pacific Northwest and about $50 million in annual funding. As a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for AIDS and STD, the UW center takes a lead role in research, training, resource development, and technical assistance in developing countries.
“King Holmes has shown exemplary leadership in global health research and training,” said Dr. Paul G. Ramsey, dean of the UW School of Medicine. “He is one of the world’s foremost public health practitioners and researchers, and will do an admirable job in leading our new Department of Global Health.”
“King Holmes has brought together countless institutions, organizations, and people in building the Center for AIDS & STD into one of the best centers of its kind,” said Dr. Patricia W. Wahl, dean of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine. “That experience will be invaluable as he leads the global health department, which will build on links between the Schools of Medicine and Public Health, but also to departments around campus, research institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), biotechnology firms, and communities here and abroad.”
The new department will also be strongly committed to supporting students of global health, Holmes said.
“Our greatest resources are the UW students themselves — undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral — from the U.S. and from other countries,” he explained. “They provided the inspiration and the demand for more teaching, training, mentoring and experience in global health. Around the world, more and more students are becoming involved in global affairs.
“Our UW health sciences students on their own initiative engaged the Gates Foundation a few years ago in supporting their Global Health Resources Center, which provides them the opportunity to work and study in developing countries. Our students will become the next generation of leaders in global health, and addressing their interests and needs now will be the first priority of the Department of Global Health.”
Holmes received his medical degree from Cornell University in 1963 and his doctorate in microbiology from the University of Hawaii in 1967, while stationed at Pearl Harbor in the United States Navy. He completed his medical training at Vanderbilt University and the UW, serving as chief resident in medicine here in the late 1960s. He was an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, and served in several leadership positions in the service from 1969 to 1983. He has been a UW faculty member for more than 35 years, served as chief of medicine at Harborview in the 1980s, and has been a leader at Harborview for more than two decades. Holmes is board certified in internal medicine and infectious disease, and is a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has won numerous national and international awards for his research and training in infectious diseases.