Following a national search, the UC Irvine School of Medicine and CHOC Children’s announced Wednesday that Dr. Coleen Cunningham, a professor of pediatrics and pathology from Duke University, has accepted a dual appointment position as both the chair for the UCI Department of Pediatrics and as senior vice president and pediatrician-in-chief for CHOC Children’s.

Her appointment is effective March 1.

“In this unique, dual role, Cunningham will be responsible for leading UCI’s Department of Pediatrics and its 16 divisions that span the spectrum of diseases and disorders,” according to a joint statement issued by UCI and CHOC. “She is charged with bringing real-world academics, scientists and clinicians together to collaborate and uncover new knowledge through research, and effectively apply that knowledge to advance children’s health.”

As senior vice president and pediatrician-in-chief at CHOC Children’s, Cunningham will have oversight responsibility for the healthcare system’s pediatric medical and surgical services, academic advancement, research and teaching programs, as well as become the key physician executive liaison between CHOC and UCI.

“Dr. Cunningham’s broad medical experience, advanced research expertise and extraordinary leadership capabilities in the field of children’s health will be transformative to Orange County and the communities that CHOC and UCI serve,” said CHOC Children’s President and CEO Kimberley Chavalas Cripe.

“Combining the clinical, research and academic expertise of UCI and CHOC will not only advance the pediatric care of children in the region, but also advance the education and training of the next generation of pediatric experts through a fully integrated program that leverages a top tier children’s health system with a top tier academic health system,” Cripe said.

Cunningham joins UCI and CHOC Children’s from Duke University, where she serves as a tenured professor in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, as chief of Global Health, and vice chair for research in the Department of Pediatrics. She holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Pathology at Duke.

Cunningham’s work on HIV and AIDS in children has been recognized numerous times, as has her work on H1N1 influenza. She has published more than 120 manuscripts and led numerous multicenter clinical trials aimed at the treatment and prevention of HIV infection in children.

Dr. Michael J. Stamos, dean of the UCI School of Medicine, said Cunningham “is a nationally recognized scholar and forward-thinking leader, with a distinguished record of achievement in research, education and clinical care. We are confident in her ability to lead our organizations. Hers is a great story of achievement and we are honored to have her join us.”

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