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Michael Nelson, MD ’89, PhD ’93

September 1, 2023  — The UVA Medical Alumni Association is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2023 Walter Reed Distinguished Achievement Award: Michael Nelson, MD ‘89, PhD ‘93.

Nelson is the Andrew D. Hart Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology Division at the University of Virginia.  He is also the current president of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties Board of Directors, and temporary voting member for the FDA Vaccines and Biological Products Advisory Committee. Nelson also served as a member of the national Vision for the Future Commission on Continuing Certification.

He received his MD and PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Virginia. He completed his internship year at the University of Virginia, followed by an internal medicine residency at Eisenhower Army Medical Center. He then turned down a chief residency position to pursue a highly competitive allergy-immunology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, followed by an additional fellowship in Clinical Laboratory Immunology. After completing his training, he embarked on a military career, which led to many leadership positions including: program director; department chief; medical director of the U.S. Army Centralized Allergen Extract Laboratory; director of Army Graduate Medical Education (ACGME); and chief consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General. He served as the interim chief medical officer for the historic closing of Walter Reed Army Medical as it merged with the National Military Medical Center. In the newly formed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he was the director of education, training and research charged with oversight of all education, training and research matters for more than 7,000 personnel, 66 graduate medical education programs, 17 allied health programs, 10 uniformed technician and nurse skill identifier courses, and more than 900 active research protocols. He retired from the U.S. Army at the rank of Colonel in 2019 after 25 years of distinguished service before returning to UVA.

Nelson has consistently advocated for the specialty of allergy and immunology on a national scale through committee and task force service at the ACGME, FDA and AMA. He is a national expert in the evidenced-based practice of allergen immunotherapy and allergen extract preparation, publishing numerous manuscripts including multiple national practice parameters. He also serves as a specialty society course co-leader and instructor for allergen extract mixing. His most recent research interest has focused on vaccine immune response and rare adverse effects. He was part of the team that developed the programmatic rollout of the smallpox and anthrax vaccines for the Department of Defense and studied the epidemiology and risk factors for myopericarditis due to smallpox vaccination. His work led to changes in exemptions and dosing for both smallpox and anthrax vaccines.

Congratulations to Dr. Nelson on this well-deserved recognition.