Sallie Permar Named Chair of Pediatrics, Pediatrician-in-Chief and Nancy Paduano Professor at Weill Cornell Medical School/New York Presbyterian Hospital

Friday, November 6, 2020
Sallie R. Permar, MD, PhD

Sallie Permar, MD, PhD

Professor in Pediatrics, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Associate Dean, Office for Physician-Scientist Development

Director, Children’s Discovery Institute

Duke Human Vaccine Institute

Duke University Medical Center














OPSD celebrates the legacy of our first Associate Dean, Physician-Scientist Development, Dr. Sallie Permar, as she prepares to leave Duke to become the Nancy Paduano Professor and Chair of Pediatrics/ Pediatrician-in-Chief at Weill Cornell Medical School/New York Presbyterian Hospital, effective December 1, 2020. 

Dr. Permar joined the faculty at Duke as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in 2011.  She is currently a Professor of Pediatrics, Immunology, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Director of Duke Children's Health and Discovery Institute. 

“In her many roles at Duke over the past decade as mentor, teacher, pioneering scientist, physician and advocate for children, Dr. Permar has distinguished herself as a visionary and innovative leader. We are grateful for her countless contributions to Duke and to society through her work here and wish her the very best in this new and exciting endeavor.” -Mary E. Klotman, MD, Dean, Duke University School of Medicine

A native of Raleigh, NC, Dr. Permar earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Davidson College, a PhD degree in Microbiology/Immunology from Johns Hopkins University, and an MD degree from Harvard Medical School, where she graduated magna cum laude. She completed clinical training in pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital in Boston.  

Dr. Permar witnessed first-hand the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on children and the consequences of perinatal HIV-1 and CMV infection on the lives of children and their families.  Motivated by these clinical experiences, Dr. Permar became a renowned expert in pediatric infectious disease, now leading a thriving laboratory of roughly 20 trainees and research staff. Her research program focuses on immune protection against mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of neonatal viral pathogens, such as HIV, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Zika. The Permar lab has developed and utilized nonhuman primate models and human cohort studies to understand and elicit immune responses that can prevent vertical virus transmission, ultimately to determine the best vaccine approaches that target the naturally protective immune responses. The value of her scientific contributions is reflected in her receipt of numerous prestigious awards, substantial grant funding, and a body of nearly 200 publications.

“It was clear to me from the first time hearing Dr. Permar speak that she was incredibly passionate about improving child health through research and rational vaccine design and also committed to training the next generation of pediatric physician-scientists. Dr. Permar’s scientific mentorship has been critical in expanding my interests in maternal-fetal/neonatal immunology and virology.” - Eleanor Semmes, MD/PhD candidate

“Dr. Permar is an incredible mentor! I struggled in the past about which direction to take for my career: Medical school, PhD, or both? I had no clue! But while working with Dr. Permar these last 5 years, she has given me every opportunity to explore each prospect, including giving me the opportunity to write a first author paper. Through the years I have had many meetings with her to discuss my ever-changing mind and she has been so patient and understanding. Working for Sallie has definitely helped me make the right decisions for my future!” - Maria Dennis, Laboratory Analyst I

“She motivates me to think and work harder every day. As a scientist, she is always helping to do creative thinking and publishing our work. She ignites a spark in you to do more and become more and is always willing to learn and listen.” -Amit Kumar, Research Scientist

Beyond her remarkable contributions to her scientific field, Dr. Permar’s mission to develop and support physician-scientists in academic medicine will have far-reaching and lasting effects on her colleagues and mentees at Duke. Dr. Permar’s passion is reflected in her leadership of Duke’s Office of Physician-Scientist Development and her service as Director of the NICHD’s national Pediatric Scientist Development Program.

“It has been a pleasure working with Sallie on multiple initiatives to address the physician-scientist workforce crisis in the last four years. I see Sallie as a good friend, role model, and mentor. She has created a national movement that Duke is leading and OPSD will be her enduring legacy. Sallie is truly a model of one who can do it all. She is an outstanding and successful investigator, empathetic physician, great mentor and sponsor, compassionate administrator, and above all a great mom. Sallie’s relationship with the Duke physician-scientist community is life-long and changing institutions cannot change that.” -Rasheed Gbadegesin, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine

“Dr. Permar is a distinguished physician-scientist whose innovative work investigating the prevention and treatment of neonatal viral infections has advanced this critical field of research.  Her research, combined with her abilities as a skilled educator and exceptional leader, offer the promise of a healthy future for countless children, and we wish her all the best in her new position as chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and Pediatrician-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and its Komansky Children’s Hospital.” - Ann M. Reed, MD, Samuel L. Katz Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Physician-in-Chief of Duke Children’s. “

Please join the OPSD Team in wishing Dr. Permar the best!  Her legacy will live on as her foundational work to establish the OPSD has set us on the path to sustainability and success in achieving our important mission.