News » New Faces at SMHS

New Faces at SMHS

In addition to ushering incoming students through the doors of Ross Hall, the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) has welcomed a number of new faces to the senior leadership team.

“We continue to attract strong leaders from diverse backgrounds to our GW community. I am very proud to welcome all of them. Some familiar faces are taking on new responsibilities, while others are new to GW, and all have a commitment to excellence that is integral to our One GW culture,” said Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, vice president for health affairs, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, and dean of SMHS.  “I look forward to working with them to support the school’s mission.”

Rea Childs

Rea Childs is the human resources (HR) director. In this role, she serves as the senior HR advisor to the SMHS dean and SMHS executive leadership and provides strategic counsel to ensure that appropriate resources are available to support HR efforts that align with the mission of the school.





Deb Dickenson, MBA, CPA, CGMA

Deb Dickenson, MBA, CPA, CGMA, was named assistant dean for finance, planning, and fiscal operations for SMHS.

Dickenson is the principal financial officer responsible for planning, organizing, executing, evaluating, and monitoring the school's financial functions to ensure the academic and fiscal needs of SMHS are met. She also advises school leadership on fiscal matters, as well as financial plan development, including creation and implementation of financial plans that align with GW and SMHS goals.



Vittorio Gallo, PhD

Vittorio Gallo, PhD, professor of pediatrics and of pharmacology and physiology, serves as the associate dean for child health research — a newly established position 

within the school to enhance research relationships between SMHS and Children's National Health System (Children’s National).

In this new role, Gallo supports faculty members in their pursuit of child health research funding by identifying appropriate funding sources and providing educational opportunities to enhance grant-seeking skills. He also provides overall coordination of the school's child health research, in addition to general administrative leadership for the operation of strategic projects in child health, in coordination with the senior associate dean for research.


Alison Hall, PhD

Alison K. Hall, PhD, is the new associate dean of research workforce development. She provides oversight on research workforce development across the school, and she offers guidance on research education, promotes research opportunities, and provides sponsored research support.

Hall is also developing mentorship and training for clinician investigators, and she supports the research track of the MD program. She is a resource for faculty seeking to develop research training and research education initiatives and help them respond to emerging opportunities. Additionally, she is working to enhance the engagement of underrepresented minorities in biomedical research and foster a culture of collaboration and interdisciplinary research.


Eric Vilain, MD, PhD

Eric Vilain, MD, PhD, serves as chair and professor of the newly re-named Department of Genomics and Precision Medicine at SMHS and Children’s National. He also serves as professor of pediatrics and continue in his role as director of the Center for Genetic Medicine Research at Children’s National.

Previously named the Department of Integrative Systems Biology, the Department of Genomics and Precision Medicine will focus on investigating genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of disease, leading to individualized diagnosis, treatment, and risk stratification.


Karen Wright, PhD, PA-C

Karen A. Wright, PhD, PA-C, was named assistant dean for student life and academic support of health sciences at SMHS. Wright is an assistant professor and interim chair of the Department of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies and the PA program director.

In this additional new role, Wright directs high quality academic support services for health sciences students and advance new student life initiatives. She is also developing and implementing new programs and activities in collaboration with other SMHS faculty to foster student academic success, personal growth, and professional development. As assistant dean for student life and academic support, she works in collaboration with the associate dean for academic planning and assessment in health sciences to design individualized programs for a diverse community of students from residential to online, and those in partnership programs with the United States military.