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June 9, 2011
By Claudene Wharton
Dr. Trudy Larson has been named director of the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her appointment follows an impressive 27-year career at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, where she has served as a professor and former chair of the Department of Pediatrics and also served as an associate dean. She served as interim director for the School of Community Health Sciences for the past 10 months.
As a pediatric infectious disease specialist, Larson has spent her career focusing on HIV/AIDS and immunizations and has contributed to both fields in research, education and service. In 1990, she co-founded the first clinic for those with HIV/AIDS in the Truckee Meadows, Northern Nevada HOPES, for which she is currently the medical director. She continues to see patients at the clinic, and will continue to do so, even with her new appointment. She is very passionate about the clinic and is proud of the University’s involvement.
"All of the doctors at the clinic are from our University of Nevada School of Medicine,” she said, “It is an interdisciplinary team, and we also have graduate students doing research there.”
With last weekend marking the 30th anniversary of the discovery of HIV/AIDS, Larson said some advances in addressing the disease have been made, and points to one local accomplishment in particular.
“In northern Nevada, we haven’t had a baby born with HIV/AIDS in 18 years,” she said. “Whenever there is an HIV-positive pregnant woman, I get the call, and co-manage a team of health-care professionals to help with the pregnancy.”
Larson said that when an HIV-positive pregnant woman has this intervention, there is less than a 1 percent chance of the baby being infected with the disease. Without such care, the rate of infection increases dramatically, to 25 percent.
Larson is also co-medical director for the AIDS Education and Training Center, a member of the Northern Nevada Immunization Coalition and medical consultant to the Washoe County District Health Department, often addressing professional audiences and the public on topics such as AIDS, vaccination, disease outbreaks, bioterrorism and sex education.
“Dr. Larson’s background in medicine and public health is impressive,” said Denise Montcalm, interim dean for the Division of Health Sciences. “She brings a strong ability to connect and collaborate between all disciplines in the field. Under her leadership, the school will continue to grow and position itself well in all facets of public health research and teaching.”
Larson’s professional affiliations include serving as a member and chair of the Nevada Public Health Foundation, as a member of the Nevada State AIDS Advisory Task Force and as the former chair of the Nevada Immunization Advisory Committee and the Nevada Medicaid Advisory Committee. She has also served on national committees for HIV/AIDS programs, and has been awarded many medical and professional honors.
In her role as director of the School of Community Health Sciences, Larson said she will help the School to continue to add to our state’s pool of public health professionals to address important health issues, such as infectious disease, availability of health care throughout the state and health policy. The school’s undergraduate programs prepare students for graduate programs in medicine, physical therapy, business and public health. Since the MPH (Master of Public Health) was first offered at the School in 2000, the program has had over 70 graduates who have gone on to positions at universities, hospitals, state and county health departments, and into doctoral programs and medical school.
Larson received her medical degree from the University of California, Irvine. She completed an internship in pediatrics at the University of California Davis Medical Center, where she was named chief resident of pediatrics, and then completed a fellowship in pediatric infectious disease at UCLA.