September 21, 2022
John A. Vanchiere, MD, PhD is a second-generation Louisiana pediatrician who has been on the faculty at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, LA for the past 15 years. He is currently Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Director of the Clinical Trials Office and an Associate Director of the Center for Emerging Viral Threats.
Dr. Vanchiere completed his MD and PhD studies at Emory University and Pediatric Residency and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX. He and his wife Margaret are the proud parents of six children. He enjoys cooking, camping and woodworking as often as possible.
Why pediatric ID? I knew in high school that I wanted to be a pediatrician. My father was a pediatrician and that’s where I learned about the vital role that pediatricians play in the wellbeing of children and families. My interest in ID, though, came about during my dual MD/PhD program. I had the great fortune to work in the Measles Lab at the CDC during the resurgence of measles in the early 1990s and that shifted my interest, which had originally been in neuroscience, to pediatric ID.
Where have you taken your ID focus? I’ve had the great luxury for the past 15 years to spend at least 75% of my time in research. I’ve been the principal investigator on dozens of clinical trials and been able to study pathogens that I never thought I would work on like Group B Strep! Then COVID came along. For the past two years I have been working with state and local public health officials to direct the COVID response in northwest Louisiana. My COVID Strike Teams have included over 200 nurses, students, computer techs and support staff, and we’ve performed over 650,000 COVID tests and administered over 130,000 vaccine doses in the community, in area nursing homes and schools. Like so many other ID docs, COVID redirected my research and I’ve been an investigator on three of the largest vaccine trials during the pandemic. I’m only now getting to return to my lab, which has been dormant these past two years.
What is a recent development or achievement in your career? From 2017 to 2019, I was President of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. That got me very active in state-level advocacy for children. In the Spring of 2022, there were 42 anti-vaccine bills introduced for consideration by the Louisiana legislature. Thanks to the testimony of myself and other PIDS members, along with parents and general pediatricians in the state, we were able to ensure that none of those bills made it into law.
What do you enjoy most about being a PIDS member; what keeps you renewing your membership? There are two major reasons. One is the camaraderie of colleagues all across the country. I know I can call any of them up when I am stumped on a case or project, and they will be there to talk through things from their experience and maybe direct me to a resource that I had not known. The value of connection with my PIDS colleagues is unquantifiable. The second reason is that PIDS keeps me connected to research, programs, and clinical practices that may otherwise escape my attention. PIDS provides an immense value, both personally and professionally.