Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

September 3, 1998

Mattison to resign as GSPH dean, accepts March of Dimes post

Donald R. Mattison, dean of the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), will leave Pitt Dec. 1 to become medical director of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. He will work at the foundation's national office in White Plains, N.Y.

"We were delighted to be able to get Don," said Dick Freeman, chairperson of the March of Dimes board of trustees and chief operating officer of the Pittsburgh Pirates. "Personally, I'm sorry it had to be someone from the University of Pittsburgh, in the sense that the city will be losing him. But he's very well qualified and brings a lot of credibility to the position" of March of Dimes medical director.

Mattison and the man he'll replace at the March of Dimes, his colleague and friend Richard Johnston, described the hiring as a perfect fit.

"The mission of the March of Dimes is to prevent birth defects and infant mortality," said Johnston, who is heading to the University of Colorado. "This means that we spend a lot of effort on the period just before pregnancy through pregnancy and delivery, and we employ the usual tools of public health, research, education, trying to change policy, and community efforts.

"Don began his professional life as an obstetrician. He did research at the National Institutes of Health and has continued research into toxins that might harm the pregnant woman or her fetus. He is an established educator and he has become a real leader in American public health. Beyond that, he is an exceptionally fine person. It's hard to imagine anyone who is better qualified." Mattison, GSPH dean since August 1990, said: "My professional background is in obstetrics and my research interests have focused on infant mortality and birth defects. The March of Dimes is a public health advocacy and community intervention organization that's focused on those two specific issues. So this is an incredible meshing of my own interests and theirs.

"I'd like folks to understand that this was a hard decision for me in the sense that, over the past eight years I've been here, I've built many warm and collegial relationships and friendships with people on the faculty, with administrators and with folks in the community. Those relationships are always hard to leave behind.

"But one of the things that made me comfortable that this was a good time for a transition is that I believe the faculty of the Graduate School of Public Health are more actively engaged in the school's life and governance now than they've been at any time during the past eight years." An interim GSPH dean will be named later this month or in October, according to Mattison, who said he's discussed the appointment with Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Thomas Detre and with Arthur Levine, who will succeed Detre Nov. 1. "We've spoken about it, but the actual choice of an interim dean and the timing of when that person will begin have not been determined yet," Mattison said.

Besides serving as dean, Mattison is a professor of environmental and occupational health and obstetrics and gynecology. He came to Pitt after serving for six years on the faculty of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. During that period he also was acting director of the Human Risk Assessment Program at the National Center for Toxicological Research, part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

From 1978 to 1984, Mattison was director of the reproductive toxicology program in the pregnancy research branch of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Mattison is a diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology, a fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has chaired or served as a member of many national and local scientific groups, including National Academy of Sciences committees on biomarkers in reproductive and developmental toxicology, pesticides in the diets of infants and children, and environmental justice.

Mattison majored in chemistry and mathematics at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, then received an M.S. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his medical degree at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and received clinical training in obstetrics and gynecology at Sloane Hospital for Women, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. He did postgraduate research training at the National Institutes of Health.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 31 Issue 1

Leave a Reply