A renowned pediatrician for more than three decades and a father for nearly as long, Dr. Steven Abrams nevertheless sometimes wanders through a grocery store’s infant formula aisle, observing the imposing set of options and, occasionally, the intimidated grown-ups shopping there “just so I can see what new parents must face and advocate for them.”
The veteran physician and researcher is bringing that expertise and concern for children and parents to The University of Texas at Austin, where he will serve as inaugural chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Dell Medical School. The neonatologist will also be a professor of pediatrics at the medical school, which will welcome its first class of students in July 2016.
“We are building this medical school, in part, around innovations that will help train doctors to work in multidisciplinary teams and treat patients as people with real needs, lives and loved ones not just carriers of health problems,” said Dr. Clay Johnston, the medical school’s dean. “Steve brings a huge amount of experience, empathy and creativity to the effort.”
Abrams was formerly a neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston which boasts the nation’s second-highest-rated pediatric neonatology program, according to U.S. News and World Report. He was also a professor of pediatrics, director of the fellowship program in neonatal-perinatal medicine, and medical director of the Neonatal Nutrition Program at Baylor College of Medicine. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he studied medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and was a pediatric resident at Akron Children’s Hospital. He also had fellowships at the National Institutes of Health in nutritional research and Baylor in neonatology and in nutrition.
“The Dell Medical School has a truly unique opportunity to transform the way doctors care for people at every stage in their lives,” Abrams said. “I want to help create not just a new medical school, but a legacy that helps generations of children and parents who need our help in creating healthier futures for their families.”
Abrams is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, including its Committee on Nutrition, and the Society for Pediatric Research. He is also an executive committee member of the American Society for Nutrition’s Medical Nutrition Council, and a former associate editor of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. He is a member of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee 2015, which advises the government on food programs. His research is focused on the mineral requirements of children of all ages, particularly calcium, zinc and iron metabolism. His clinical interests have focused on the growth of preterm infants and the use of specialized nutritional practices.
This department chair appointment is the third for the Dell Medical School, which announced chairs of the departments of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Surgery late last year.