We write to announce that Dr. King K. Holmes, William H. Foege Professor and Chair of the UW Department of Global Health, has decided to step down as chair next year.  He will continue to serve as chair until his successor has assumed the chair position.  Thereafter, King will continue as an active member of the Department of Global Health faculty.

Dr. Holmes has had a legendary career at UW.  He arrived as a medical resident in 1967, with an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Cornell, and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Hawaii, where he had served as a medical epidemiologist in the U.S. Navy.  In rapid succession he completed his residency, served as Chief Medical Resident, rose through the academic ranks to become Professor of Medicine (with appointments in the Departments of Microbiology and Epidemiology), and, in the late 1980s, vice-chair of the Department of Medicine.  At various times he has headed the Division of Infectious Disease at the USPHS Hospital and at Harborview, and served as Chief of Medicine at Harborview.

King’s interest in sexually transmitted diseases began in the 1960s; in 1967, the year he arrived to start his residency at UW, he published an important series of papers in JAMA entitled “Studies of venereal disease.”  In the years that followed he founded the Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Clinic at Harborview, perhaps the leading such facility in the nation, established the Center for AIDS and STDs at UW (a WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center that he still directs), founded the Center for AIDS Research (which he still directs), led millions of dollars of research projects, and published  548 peer-reviewed papers and 178 book chapters, editorials, and other contributions, and 29 books and journal supplements, on every aspect of STDs and HIV, and on a wide range of other infectious disease topics.  King’s many honors include honorary doctorates from universities in Sweden and Finland, fellowship in the AAAS, membership in the Institute of Medicine and the U.K. Royal College of Physicians, appointment as a Global Health Ambassador by the Paul Rogers Society, and, most recently, the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award.  But perhaps the greatest tribute to King’s work is the roster of people he has trained and mentored—many dozens, including current leaders at universities in Nairobi, Lima, Helsinki, London, Sweden, and every corner of North America, as well as at foundations, agencies, and the private sector.  A very large number of the world’s leaders in STD research have been influenced, if not trained, by King…and each of them holds him in the highest esteem.

Based on an extensive international search, King became the founding chair of UW’s Department of Global Health in 2006.  Since then the Department has grown and flourished.  It now includes 41 faculty with primary appointments, 21 with joint appointments, and 218 with adjunct, affiliate, and clinical appointments (representing 15 of UW’s 16 schools and colleges).  The Department’s broad portfolio is carried out through seven centers, 12 interdisciplinary programs and initiatives, and 13 education and training programs, which are supported by 284 domestic and 869 international staff.  Since 2007, they have reported 743 projects in 114 countries spanning Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, North and South America, and the Caribbean.  The Department has made substantial contributions in infectious disease control, in women, adolescent, and children’s health, in implementation science, in health metrics, and in global health professional training, to name just a few areas.  King’s legacy is truly impressive.

We will convene a search committee this autumn, and expect that committee to undertake a global search for the new Department Chair.  In the meantime, please join us in thanking King for his extraordinary service to the Department, to UW, and to global health, and in supporting him through the duration of his time as chair.


Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.                                                             Howard Frumkin, M.D., Dr.P.H.

CEO, UW Medicine                                                                  Dean

Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and               School of Public Health

Dean of the School of Medicine,                                           University of Washington

University of Washington