Courtesy of Saad Omar
Saad Omar has been involved in global and public health since the age of 19, a path that has taken him from Karachi to Connecticut. Now Omar is leaving Yale after four years as associate dean of the School of Medicine in New Haven and the inaugural director of the Institute for Global Health.
Nancy Brown, dean of the Yale School of Medicine, Melinda Pettigrew, interim dean of the Yale School of Public Health, and Holly Powell Kennedy, interim dean of the Yale School of Nursing, announced Omar’s departure. joint statement on Thursday.
Effective June 1, 2023, Omar is moving to Texas to serve as dean of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Omar’s time at Yale has been marked by his leadership of the Yale Institute for Global Health, or YIGH, and contributions to progress in COVID-19 surveillance, vaccination, and policy initiatives.
“We are at a juncture where the nature of public health is changing to be responsive,” Omar told the news on the subject of his transition. “My goal will of course be to help redefine modern public health through the founding of the consequentialist school, [which means] That the value of your actions is determined by the results.”
as of 19 January StatementWIGH will have a new interim dean Michael Cappello, chair and professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health. The statement added that the university plans to begin the search for a permanent director for WIGH.
Joining Yale in 2019, Omar helped found and grow YIGH. He was instrumental in driving the COVID-19 policy, evaluating vaccine efficacy and initiating initiatives for vaccine distribution. Omar also established faculty networks and initiatives focused on global health concerns such as malaria, non-communicable diseases, and planetary health. In 2022, Omar was Selected For the National Academy of Medicine.
In addition to his directorship of the Yale Institute for Global Health, Omar also holds appointments as an associate dean for global health research, the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Medicine, a professor of epidemiology of microbial diseases, at the Yale School of Medicine. Yale School of Public Health, or YSPH, and an assistant professor at the Yale School of Nursing.
“What gives me reassurance as the inaugural director of the Institute for Global Health is that while the Institute is stable, it is growing. […] It has had an impact,” Omar told the news. “I’ve always felt that building a deep bench is part of a leader’s job, to make sure programs are sustainable, not just exciting.”
Key to his philosophy, Omar explained, was the emphasis on collaboration; Having built a network of more than 200 faculty colleagues, Omar has worked with students and faculty from YSPH to the Departments of Economics and Political Science.
Doing so has allowed them to address a wide range of issues within the healthcare realm, including the development of protocols to survey wastewater for COVID-19 to monitor the transmission of COVID-19 in communities. By integrating partners across the university, Omar was instrumental in creating the Planetary Health Initiative, aided by the support of Scott Strobel, University Provost; Nancy Brown and Pericles Lewis, Dean of Yale College.
,[Yale] You don’t choose to be good at what you do and be a collaborator while doing it,” Omar said.
In his new position as a dean at UT Southwestern, Omar hopes to continue to develop that collaboration to see “an economist or an epidemiologist.” […] working together” and “re-adjust how we teach.” He also aspires to use his inaugural position as a platform to bridge social inequalities.
“the fact that [UT Southwestern is] A strong public university system is one way to bridge the disparity in education and access to quality public health education,” Omar told the news. “To build this, and in a medical center that prides itself on being very research-oriented takes pride in, has six Nobel Prizes, a ton of National Academy of Medicine members and National Academy of Science members—which, I think, is a perfect combination.”
As he builds UT Southwestern’s public health program, Omar also aspires to instill a philosophy that prioritizes “the primacy of evidence” in public health. Rather than developing public health policy based on emotion or opinion, Omar hopes to use the opportunity of establishing the first major school of public health to mark “a new era in public health”.
Omar still reflects fondly on his time at Yale. His goal is to continue working with colleagues at Yale, building relationships that he describes as “the most fun part of science.” Omar also praised the quality of his colleagues and the support he has received from Yale.
“To be honest, my experience at Yale has been wonderful,” Omar said. “There wasn’t a morning when I wasn’t looking forward to going to work. Even sometimes during the pandemic when it was 5:30 in the morning, either physically or virtually.
Omar’s colleagues also lauded his leadership at WIGH. Kennedy praised how Omer was equally committed to ensuring the participation of nursing students and faculty in WIGH initiatives, including the Global Health Case Competition and the WIGH Faculty Network.
According to Michael Skonieczny, deputy director of YIGH, Omar’s leadership was “incredibly inspiring”.
“Dr. Omar’s passion, commitment and decisiveness make him a very effective leader,” Skoniczny wrote. ,[He] Yale is well positioned to make a significant impact on some of the most pressing global health issues of our time.
As Omar begins his final semester at Yale, he emphasizes his satisfaction with his students, noting the “emotional maturity” of the undergraduate and graduate students he is pursuing.
,[They] Were passionate about global health, serious about it, mature about the obstacles you face […] They were gritty,” commented Omar. “That was really the funniest part.”
YIGH was established in 2019.