Michael Rutledge DeBaun,


Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine
Vice-Chair for Clinical and Translational Research
J.C. Peterson Endowed Chair in Pediatrics
Director, Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, TN

Michael Rutledge DeBaun, MD, MPH, is an internationally recognized physician-scientist whose advocacy and research have resulted in fundamental advances in the medical care of children and adults with sickle cell disease (SCD) and children with Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome, a cancer predisposition syndrome. He is professor of pediatrics and medicine and vice-chair of clinical and translational research in the Department of Pediatrics, and holds the J.C. Peterson Endowed Chair at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, TN. 

After receiving his degrees from Stanford University, he completed his pediatric residency, served as chief resident, and completed his pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine. He then completed a 4-year United States Public Health Service Epidemiology fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. During the fellowship, he earned an MPH degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2003. Dr DeBaun returned to St. Louis and spent 14 years at Washington University School of Medicine, where he was promoted to professor of pediatrics, biostatistics, and neurology, and was the inaugural Ferring Family Chair in Pediatrics. In 2010, he was recruited to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he founded the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease. The Center is one of the first in the country to establish a medical home care model for children and adults with SCD in a community health center.

Dr DeBaun was the primary physician author of the Sickle Cell Treatment Act, signed by President Bush into law on October 22, 2004 Title VII, creating regional networks for enhanced services for with SCD. His research efforts in SCD have focused on the clinical epidemiology of acute and chronic lung disease, sequelae of silent and overt strokes, including leading 8 investigator-initiated, controlled stroke trials in North America, Europe, and Africa. Additionally, he was the leader of a multidisciplinary team in Ghana that lowered the death rate of pregnant women with SCD by approximately 90%. He continues to work with the team at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana. His research has expanded to include the clinical history and optimal therapy for recurrent ischemic priapism in men with SCD living in Nigeria and malnutrition in older children with SCD living in Nigeria.

Dr DeBaun is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (2006), the Association of American Physicians (2008), and the National Academy of Medicine (2009). He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Ernest Beutler Prize and Lecture in Clinical Science from the American Society of Hematology (2014) and the following international mentor awards for his work in Ghana, Nigeria, and the United States: the Maureen Andrew Mentor Award from the Society for Pediatric Research (2017) and the American Society of Hematology Mentor Award (2019). He also received the J.E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicine (2019) from Stanford University School of Medicine, as well as the Humanism in Medicine Award (2002), the Clinical Teacher of the Year Award (2008), and the Distinguished Faculty Award (2009) from Washington University School of Medicine.