Duke has more than a championship basketball team. Even more amazing than Coach K is Dr. P.
The photo of Dr. Sallie Permar snapped by Bill Giduz of Davidson College perfectly captures her confidence, affability, and good nature. But don’t be fooled. Behind that smile is a bad ass.
Dr. Permar is an MD, PhD and a pedigreed pediatrician with degrees from Davidson, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard Medical School. What warms the heart of this public school advocate is that Sallie is also a product of Wake County Public Schools. She graduated from Broughton High School, just up the hill from my house.
Dr. Permar’s titles at Duke are impressive, if not a tish intimidating.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Assistant Professor in Immunology
Assistant Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
I hope 60 Minutes producers are standing by to schedule an interview with Sallie. She’s one of the few lucky ones whose work is changing the world. Sallie is a decorated doctor and researcher working on vaccines for AIDS and CMV, Cytomegalovirus, at Duke. I’m warning you to not Google Dr. Sallie Permar, lest you feel highly unaccomplished. Or maybe that’s just me…
Sallie’s contributions have been recognized by the White House, among others. Just last year she was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
Here’s the thing…Sallie Permar is jovial, funny, candid, and ever so approachable. She takes her work, but not herself, seriously. There’s no ego to bust through, and Sallie isn’t out to impress anyone with her accomplishments (I think I’ve already established that there are many.). She clearly loves what she does and is committed to maternal health and disease eradication.
Part of my advocacy work is with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life program. I work to provide vaccines to children in developing countries, where a child dies of a vaccine preventable disease every 20 seconds. Let that sink in… I was fortunate to travel to Uganda with Shot@Life, where many mothers spoke of the horror of AIDS. Sallie’s work in Zambia and other parts of the African continent is leading to promising breakthroughs. There were mothers in Uganda who told me their wish for their family was that their children did not die of AIDS. That conversation has stuck with me, like a pin in my heart. Imagine how heartening it is to have met Dr. Sallie Permar, the woman who might be the key to making these mothers’ wishes come true.