Research Horizons


Hegde, Shah and Spearman Appointed to New Vice Chair Roles in Department of Pediatrics

Headshot photos of Dr. Hegde, Shah and Spearman

Three new vice chairs have been selected to collectively oversee all 38 divisions within the Department of Pediatrics as well as help drive priorities in basic science research, clinical translational research, education, and advocacy.

  • Rashmi Hegde, PhD, professor in the Division of Developmental Biology, has been named vice chair for basic research and education
  • Samir S. Shah, MD, MSCE, MHM, director of the Division of Hospital Medicine, has been named vice chair for clinical affairs and education
  • Paul Spearman, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, has been named vice chair for clinical translational research and education

All three positions are newly established roles within the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and will replace the vice chair of pediatrics position, which was formerly held by the late Hector Wong, MD, prior to his unexpected passing on Jan. 23 and most recently by Spearman, who served in an interim capacity.

Hegde, Shah and Spearman will officially be promoted to their new roles on Jan. 1, 2023, and will report directly to the department’s chair, Tina Cheng, MD, MPH, who is also director of the Research Foundation and chief medical officer for Cincinnati Children’s.

“Our new structure and the naming of these three vice chairs will help us to move more quickly towards achieving our vision for the future,” said Cheng. “All three leaders bring years of expertise to their new positions and have been instrumental to the success of our organization through their tireless commitment, dedication and resiliency. As we continue to grow and evolve, they will play a pivotal role in the work we do today, and importantly, will help us deliver on our clinical, research, education and advocacy missions.”

The three vice chairs were selected from a pool of internal applicants after an extensive search led by Cheng. The selection process included meetings with leadership and three interview panels comprised of faculty, business directors, and the Research and Discovery Committee.

Vice Chair for Basic Research and Education
Rashmi Hegde, PhD
Photo of Rashmi Hegde

Hegde, a professor in the Division of Developmental Biology, has studied cancer biology, the molecular basis of disease and structure-aided drug design for the past 30 years. Since joining Cincinnati Children’s in 2001, she and her lab team members have studied molecular mechanisms that drive disease processes with a specific interest in the ability of disease-associated cells to survive conditions of hypoxic stress.

Hegde is also the founding director of the Biomedical Research Technologies Master of Science Program and co-chief scientific officer of Innovation Ventures at Cincinnati Children’s — roles that will eventually transition to others within Cincinnati Children’s once her vice chair appointment takes effect.

“I am excited to take on this new role and advocate for continued excellence in research and education at Cincinnati Children’s as well as the resources and infrastructure that will make for impactful science,” Hegde said.

As Vice Chair for Basic Research and Education, Hegde will oversee basic and data science divisional and program leaders, including Biomedical Informatics, Biostatistics & Epidemiology, Clinical Pharmacology, Developmental Biology, Human Genetics, the Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology (CAGE), Immunobiology, the James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence, and the Center for Stem Cell & Organoid Medicine (CuSTOM). She will also provide senior leadership oversight for all research-related graduate training programs and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs as well as commercialization efforts through Innovation Ventures.

“Basic research is the engine that drives scientific progress, and its effective application can bring innovations to both the bedside and the market,” noted Hegde. “In partnership with our basic and data science divisions, trainees and technology transfer team, we hope to further our shared mission of improving health outcomes by deploying this continuum of discovery, application and dissemination.”

Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs and Education
Samir S. Shah, MD, MSCE, MHM
Photo of Samir Shah

Shah, a board-certified pediatric hospital medicine and pediatric infectious disease physician, joined Cincinnati Children’s in 2011 and has been the James M. Ewell Endowed Chair in Hospital Medicine and also the inaugural director of the Division of Hospital Medicine — a role he’s held since 2012. Additionally, Shah is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Hospital Medicine, the official journal of the Society of Hospital Medicine.

His research focuses on improving the efficiency and quality of care of children — particularly those hospitalized with common, serious infections such as pneumonia or meningitis. Over time, Shah’s research interests have evolved from focusing on specific diseases to influencing care systems improvements resulting in better outcomes for patients. Ultimately, his ambition is to show physicians how to provide better care at a lower cost and develop methods to help health systems do the same.

As Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs and Education, Shah will ensure consistent and standard clinical operational practices across the Department of Pediatrics, help to drive progress in safety and patient family experience, and secure excellent and equitable outcomes.

Shah will oversee a select group of clinical translational science division leaders, including Adolescent and Transition Medicine, Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Critical Care Medicine, Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, General and Community Pediatrics, Hospital Medicine, the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children, Neurology, Pathology, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Sports Medicine. He will also have senior leadership oversight of the departmental Regional Strategic Planning and Outcomes that Matter activities.

“I am honored, humbled and excited to serve in this new role and look forward to partnering with divisions to advance our missions in clinical care and education,” Shah said. “These efforts will include strengthening our clinical training pathways, developing and implementing new models of care, and supporting innovation. Furthermore, we have made important progress in recruiting and retaining an exceptional, diverse group of physicians and psychologists. I will proactively support our efforts to enhance diversity and ensure a culture of inclusivity.”

A national search for Shah’s replacement as director of Hospital Medicine will begin later in 2023, following the appointment of an interim leader.

Vice Chair for Clinical Translational Research and Education
Paul Spearman, MD
Photo of Paul Spearman

Spearman, a board-certified pediatric infectious diseases physician, has served as the Albert B. Sabin professor and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Cincinnati Children’s since 2016. He also leads the institutional Child Health Research Career Development Award (K-12) program as well as the Procter Scholar Awards, which will soon transition to Hitesh Deshmukh, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Perinatal Immunity.

Spearman has been at the forefront of research for the prevention and treatment of emerging infectious diseases starting with the HIV epidemic in the 1980s. His research focuses on several aspects of HIV biology including viral interaction with host cells and cellular pathways responsible for the immune response. He also directs adult and pediatric vaccine trials for Ebola, HIV and SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19).

As Vice Chair for Clinical Translational Research and Education, Spearman will oversee a select group of clinical translational science divisional leaders, including Allergy and Immunology, Asthma Research, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Infectious Diseases, Nephrology and Hypertension, Rehabilitation Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Rheumatology.

“I am thrilled to serve in this capacity and look forward to helping the divisions and centers that will report through this office achieve their goals, with a particular focus on facilitating research opportunities,” noted Spearman. “I am also excited to continue some of the system-wide initiatives I have been working on during the past six months while serving as the interim vice chair of pediatrics. I view this as an opportunity and a privilege to serve our outstanding investigators and division chiefs, and to work together with our chair—Dr. Tina Cheng—and the other vice chairs—Dr. Hegde and Dr. Shah—to enhance the overall research and educational environment at Cincinnati Children’s.”

Later in in 2023, a national search will begin for Spearman’s replacement as director of Infectious Diseases. Lara Danziger-Isakov, MD, MPH, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, currently serves as the division’s interim director.