UCSF epidemiologist George Rutherford selected to head National Advisory Council for VA research

By Kevin Boyd

A University of California, San Francisco epidemiologist will chair the
newly-created Veterans Affairs National Research Advisory Council (NRAC), which
will give external consultation and review to senior administrators on the VA’s
research effort.

George W. Rutherford, MD, UCSF professor of epidemiology, preventive medicine
and pediatrics and head of the Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine Division in
the UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, was appointed by Acting
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Herschel Gober to chair the 12-member council.

The council, which will hold its first meeting November 13, will make
recommendations on the nature and the scope of research sponsored and conducted
at more than 100 VA medical centers across the country.

“I am honored and delighted to have been chosen for this important post.  VA
research has a long and distinguished history, and I look forward to helping
them meet the challenges of the coming years,” Rutherford said.

Senior VA administrators said they welcome the input of the new council.

“The NRAC will be a great asset to VA research”, said John R. Feussner, MD, VA
Chief Research and Development Officer.  “The vast knowledge and credentials of
the members will provide expertise and a diversity of views that will make our
highly accomplished research program even stronger.”

The panel will include representatives of academic medical centers, government
research institutes, private industry and a veteran representative.

In 1996, another advisory committee led by Rutherford assessed the overall
focus of the VA’s research program.  Its recommendations included establishment
of the NRAC to assist VA leaders in setting policy and direction to ensure that
VA research continues to address veterans’ most significant health concerns.
Rutherford is a leading researcher in the epidemiology of AIDS and HIV
infection and public health issues in the AIDS epidemic.  Much of his research
has focused on the natural history of HIV infection, and the epidemiology of
AIDS and HIV infection in California and Latin America.

He also has studied the epidemiology and prevention of tuberculosis, syphilis,
and coccidioidomycosis (a fungal infection endemic to the Southwestern US), and
the interplay between managed care and public health.

Rutherford joined UCSF as a full-time faculty member in 1997, but has been a
member of the courtesy faculty in pediatrics and epidemiology since 1986.  He
currently serves as director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies
International Program.

Rutherford also served as the state health officer for California from 1993 to
1995 and as state epidemiologist from 1990 to 1995.