Vanderbilt University Medical Center names Bill Heerman, MD, MPH, Chief of the Division of General Pediatrics

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center names Bill Heerman, MD, MPH, Chief of the Division of General Pediatrics

30 Apr, 2023

Vanderbilt University Medical Center hires new Chief of General Pediatrics

Bill Heerman, MD, MPH, associate professor of Pediatrics, has been named chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, effective May 1.

Heerman, who has spent his entire career at Vanderbilt, was selected following a national search led by Kathryn Edwards, MD, who retired at the end of 2022, and S. Todd Callahan, MD, MPH, professor of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Health.

He fills the role vacated by Shari Barkin, MD. Rebecca Swan, MD, professor of Pediatrics and the William Long Director in Pediatric Medical Education, has been serving as interim division chief since July, 2022.

“I am thrilled that Bill has accepted the role as the next chief of the Division of General Pediatrics. Bill is a national expert in childhood obesity research and is highly regarded throughout the country for his careful approach to scholarship which focuses on personalized behavioral obesity interventions and two-generation solutions to obesity. I am particularly proud that one of our trainees who has grown into an outstanding clinician, educator and researcher is primed to lead the division in its next chapter,” said Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Pediatrics, pediatrician-in-chief at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and James C. Overall Professor.

“I also want thank to Rebecca Swan for her excellent leadership as interim division chief for the past 10 months, and for her enduring commitment to her colleagues and our mission.”

Heerman, a Park Ridge, Illinois, native, earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Subsequently, he began a nearly two-decade chapter at Vanderbilt, arriving in 2004 to attend Vanderbilt University Medical School (VUSM), and staying to do a residency in internal medicine and pediatrics followed by a fellowship in general pediatrics. He also earned a Master of Public Health from VUSM. He joined the Pediatrics faculty in 2014.

“It is an honor to be asked to lead such a committed team of health care professionals, all united around the common goals of providing high quality pediatric primary care to children, teaching the next generation of pediatric health care providers, and advancing scientific knowledge through cutting edge research, all while advocating for children and their families,” Heerman said.

“The opportunity to step into this new division chief role is especially meaningful, as I have had the great privilege of learning from and collaborating with so many of my colleagues over the last 19 years since I started medical school at Vanderbilt.

“We are especially grateful to Dr. Rebecca Swan for serving as interim division chief this last year. The Division of General Pediatrics has a long legacy of compassionate excellence, and I am excited to help us reach our goals together in this new chapter.”

Heerman is an award-winning teacher and clinician, receiving the Excellence in Patient Experience Award for his clinical care every year since 2017. He has published more than 60 studies and delivered four dozen national and international scholarly lectures, many of which focused on childhood obesity and community-based behavioral interventions.

“Dr. Heerman’s background in research will be critical in supporting the scholarly work of our current faculty as well as recruiting additional physician-scientists,” said Swan, vice chair for Education in the Department of Pediatrics.

“Serving as interim division director these past 10 months has allowed me to fully appreciate how integral our division is to all missions of the department, serving as a patient-centered medical home for a diverse, largely underserved population, foundational education for our residents and students, research that impacts child health and policy and advocacy efforts, locally and beyond.”

About Vanderbilt University Medical Center:

“Vanderbilt University Medical Center is the largest comprehensive research, teaching, and patient care health system in the Mid-South region.

Represented as “Vanderbilt Health,” our growing health system includes the leading adult and children’s hospitals in the Southeast. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, our health system sees more 3 million patient visits a year.

We’re honored to be a resource for patients and clinicians throughout Tennessee and beyond to provide advanced care for complex and rare conditions. Through our regional hospitals and clinics, our aim is to provide the best, right care in the best, right setting – which may be on our 21st Avenue campus in Nashville but increasingly is in communities closer to home.

We’re the largest non-government employer in Middle Tennessee, with 40,000 among our workforce and an expanding footprint in towns and communities across the region, with more than 200 clinics and 3 community-based hospitals.

About William J. Heerman, MD, MPH:

William Heerman, MD, MPH, is a physician-scientist and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He is chief of the section of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. Dr. Heerman’s research focuses on improving maternal-child health outcomes related to obesity in communities by developing and implementing behavioral interventions. His primary focus is on conducting pragmatic clinical trials in community settings using cutting-edge implementation science methods. He is board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. He is the principal investigator on multiple randomized trials of obesity interventions funded by the NIH and PCORI. A key component of Dr. Heerman’s research is engaging community members throughout all aspects of research. He is the director of the Nashville Collaborative, an academic-community partnership with Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation, the Nashville Public Library, and multiple other community organizations dedicated to improving child health.




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