Associate Professor Dan Salmon, PhD ’03, MPH
Associate Professor Dan Salmon’s career in public health is a prime example of how Hopkins graduates can affect global health policy and programs through both academic and government posts. Before joining the Department full-time in 2012, Salmon (whose last name is not pronounced like the fish, but rather “Sawl-muhn”) was the Director of Vaccine Safety in the National Vaccine Program Office at the US Department of Health and Human Services. As director, he coordinated, evaluated and provided leadership for federal vaccine safety programs. During the 2009 swine flu (H1N1) epidemic, he oversaw the federal vaccine safety monitoring program—the most comprehensive vaccine safety monitoring effort in US history. As part of this program, he led the development of a surveillance system that captured vaccine histories from state immunization registries and health insurance companies with records for about 35 million people. This program is now a permanent part of vaccine safety monitoring by the FDA.
While working for the US government, Salmon was also an adjunct faculty in the Department where he taught the Vaccine Policy Issues course, which he continues to teach. The course examines current national and international policy issues in vaccine research, development, manufacturing, supply, and utilization. While his experience inside the US government has brought an invaluable perspective to students over the years, he’s quick to point out that many of his students have valuable career experiences of their own. One example is current PhD student, Jessica Atwell, who took the class as an MPH student. Salmon’s lecture on vaccine refusal led to the widely reported research on the link between vaccine refusal rates and outbreaks of whooping cough in California. Atwell, who worked at the California Department of Public Health before pursuing her master’s, was able to obtain information on California pertussis cases though her former colleagues. This collaboration with Salmon and others was eventually published in Pediatrics and reported by a host of national media outlets. You can watch Salmon interviewed on the CBS News.
Salmon is now Deputy Director of the School’s Institute for Vaccine Safety. His recent research focuses on post-licensure vaccine safety and the factors associated with parental decisions to vaccinate, or not vaccinate, their children. This work fits nicely with the Institute’s mission to provide an independent assessment of vaccines and vaccine safety to help guide decision makers and educate physicians, the public and the media about key issues surrounding the safety of vaccines. This freedom to pursue his research interests was one of the reasons that brought him back to Hopkins full-time. In addition, he’s excited to be a more integrated part of the vaccine training program:
The Vaccine Science and Policy Certificate Program is one of the most rigorous and comprehensive programs in the world. Organizations from the US Health and Human Services to WHO come to me time and time again to recommend graduates of the program.
For students interested in a career in global vaccine policy, Salmon recommends applying for the Vaccine Internship Experience at WHO, or VIEW Scholarships. The program is funded by the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative and allows students to work with mentors in the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at the World Health Organization to gain experience in global vaccine research, policy, or programs. “One of my recent students, Kristen Vannice, who was a VIEW fellow, recently secured a permanent position at WHO. The VIEW scholarships can really open doors for young scientists.”
Salmon will be teaching the Vaccine Policy Issues course in 3rd term next year.