W. Alan Hodson Endowed Chair in Pediatrics
The W. Alan Hodson Endowed Chair in Pediatrics was established as a professorship in 1991 to enhance the University of Washington’s ability to attract and retain distinguished faculty in the field of neonatology and respiratory diseases. The professorship became a chair in 2008.
Dr. Alan Hodson was appointed head of UW Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatal and Respiratory Diseases, on July 1, 1970 — four years after his initial academic appointment at the University of Washington. He was, at the time, the youngest neonatal division head in the U.S. His tenure as division head was remarkable for its balanced productivity in all the major areas of important academic endeavors: innovation, service, education-training and research.
In the early 1970s, Dr. Hodson was the driving force behind the development and acceptance of an innovative, regionalized system for neonatal care — before it was a popular, common movement — in Washington state. Such efforts included consolidating multiple small, inefficient community hospital labor and delivery/nursery services, developing intermediate care nurseries in geographically strategic locations, implementing an effective two-way transport system, establishing a national hotline consultation program, and creating an outreach education system designed to support all of the above. This included developing the first use of helicopters in the transport of tiny infants in conjunction with the Army’s MAST helicopter system.
During Dr. Hodson’s tenure, the division’s clinical services intensive care unit and neonatal intensive care unit have evolved from rather small, uncoordinated and economically unproductive nurseries to their current busy, productive, state-of-the-art status. To a large degree, such development is a reflection of his energy, foresight and commitment. It is a little-known fact that although Dr. Hodson worked tirelessly to develop UW Medical Center as a perinatal referral center, he also conceived and developed the infant intensive care unit at Seattle Children’s — one of his first efforts upon arriving at the University of Washington.
In addition to the usual outreach, student and resident teaching activities, the Division of Neonatal and Respiratory Diseases always has emphasized a fellowship program designed to produce academic neonatologists. This program has been remarkably successful, producing 36 graduates over 28 years (as of the writing of the endowment agreement), of which 70 percent have pursued a sustained academic career upon completion of their training. Of his many accomplishments as division head, Dr. Hodson would, perhaps, be most proud of this record.
Leadership and success in attracting research funds for the division were always hallmarks of Dr. Hodson’s tenure. Beginning in 1971 and continuing in an uninterrupted manner until 1992, Dr. Hodson was a program director or principal investigator for four consecutive five-year, multi-project interdisciplinary laboratory research efforts focused on developmental pulmonary physiology and biochemistry. This consistent and impressive record of divisional funding enabled other elements of the division’s activities (clinical services and teaching programs) to achieve their current level of excellence. It also demonstrated Dr. Hodson’s substantial success as an individual investigator and as a mentor who facilitated the academic development of a large number of fellows and young faculty.
Dr. Hodson retired as division head in July 1997 after a 27-year tenure. He continues part time in the Department of Pediatrics as professor emeritus and is devoting his time to developing a curriculum for a three-year training program for obstetricians and pediatricians interested in pursuing an academic career in global maternal and newborn medicine. He has had a distinguished career. Indeed, he might be best described as the epitome of the successful academic neonatologist.
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