Supplied by Saad Omer
Saad Omer has been involved in global and public health fields since he was 19 years old, a path that took him from Karachi to Connecticut. Now, after four years at New Haven as associate dean of the medical school and first director of the Institute for Global Health, Omar is leaving Yale.
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 Thursday.
Effective June 1, 2023, Omer will travel to Texas to serve as dean of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Omer’s time at Yale is noted for his leadership of the Yale Institute for Global Health (YIGH) and his contributions to the advancement of COVID-19 surveillance, vaccines and policy initiatives.
“We’re at an inflection point where the nature of public health is changing to respond,” Omar told the news on the subject of his transition. “My aim is to help redefine modern public health by creating a school of absolute consequentialism, [which means] The value of your actions is determined by the results. “
According to January 19 statementThe new Interim Dean of YIGH will be Michael Cappello, chair and professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health. The statement added that the university plans to start the search for a permanent director of YIGH.
Omer joined Yale in 2019 and helped found and grow YIGH. He has been instrumental in advancing COVID-19 policy, vaccine efficacy evaluation, and vaccine distribution initiatives. Omer has also established faculty networks and initiatives focused on global health issues such as malaria, noncommunicable diseases and planetary health. In 2022, Omar is elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
In addition to his role as director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, Omer was named associate dean for global health research, the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Medicine at Yale School of Medicine, and Yale professor of microbial disease epidemiology. Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), and Adjunct Professor at the Yale School of Nursing.
“As the first Director of the Institute for Global Health, I am reassured that the Institute is stable, that it is growing […] It had an impact,” Omar told the news. “I’ve always believed that part of the job of a leader is to build a deep bench to make sure these projects are sustainable and not just exciting.”
Key to his philosophy, Omer explained, is an emphasis on collaboration; Omer has built a network of more than 200 faculty members, working with students and staff from YSPH to the Department of Economics and Political Science.
Doing so has allowed him to address a wide range of issues within healthcare, including developing protocols to investigate COVID-19 in wastewater to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the community. By bringing together partners across the University, Omer was instrumental in creating the Planetary Health Initiative with the support of University Provost Scott Strobel; Yale College Dean Nancy Brown and Pericle Lewis.
“[Yale] It doesn’t give you the option to be good at what you do and be collaborative while you do it,” Omer said.
In his new role as dean of UT Southwestern, Omer hopes to continue to develop this collaboration, seeing an “economist or epidemiologist […] working together” and “Refocusing the way we teach. He also aspires to use his inaugural position as a platform to bridge social inequalities.
“the fact is [UT Southwestern is] A strong public university system is one way of bridging inequalities in educational opportunity and quality public health education,” Omar told the news. A medical center that is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences — I think it’s a perfect combination. “
In building UT Southwestern’s public health program, Omer also aspired to instill a philosophy that prioritizes “evidence first” in public health. Rather than base public health policy on feelings or opinions, Omar hopes to use the opportunity to mark “a new era in public health” by establishing the first major public health school.
Omar still fondly recalls his time at Yale. His goal is to continue working with collaborators at Yale, building relationships he calls “the most interesting part of science.” Omer also praised the quality of his colleagues and the support he received from Yale.
“Honestly, my experience at Yale has been great,” Omar said. “There isn’t a single morning I don’t look forward to going to work. Even sometimes at 5:30am during the pandemic, whether physically or virtually.”
Omer’s colleagues also praised his leadership at YIGH. Kennedy credits how Omar is “equally committed to ensuring” that nursing students and faculty are involved in YIGH programs, including the Global Health Case Competition and the YIGH Faculty Network.
YIGH deputy director Michael Skonieczny said Omer’s leadership was “incredibly inspiring”.
“Dr. Omar’s enthusiasm, commitment, and decisiveness made him a very effective leader,” Skonieczny wrote. “[He] Enables Yale to have a significant impact on some of the most intractable global health issues of our time. “
As Omer began his final semester at Yale, he emphasized his satisfaction with students, noting the “emotional maturity” of the undergraduates and graduate students he encountered.
“[They] Passionate about global health, serious about it and mature for the various obstacles you face […] They’re tough,” Omer said. “That’s actually the fun part. “
YIGH was established in 2019.