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Gerald Dal Pan

Director, Office of Surveillance & Epidemiology, FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
DIA Fellow

Read Biography


When did you realize you wanted to be an epidemiologist?

I first became interested in epidemiology during the first semester of medical school, in the Fall of 1982, when one of our professors spoke about his work in eradicating measles. I soon realized that epidemiology is a field that would allow me to combine my interest in medicine with broader public health issues using quantitative methods—a perfect combination for me.

Where do you see your field going? What is your vision of the field in 2030?

Informatics and the explosion of “big data” are transforming epidemiology, including pharmacoepidemiology. The challenge for the field is to learn how to use these data wisely by keeping in mind the fundamental principles of epidemiology.

What book are you currently reading and why?

I am re-reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. In his explanations of relativity and quantum theory, Hawking brilliantly describes both the very small (sub-atomic particles) and the very large (the expanding universe). I find that re-reading a good book provides me with many more insights than the initial read.

What advice would you give your younger self about to enter the “real world?”

I would tell my younger self to think “out of the box” more.

How has DIA helped you?

DIA has provided me with opportunities to participate in important discussions about drug development with a broad group of stakeholders. Given the complexity of drug development and the many perspectives that various stakeholders bring to it, DIA’s neutral forum has given me a 360-degree view of the drug development landscape.

Gerald J. Dal Pan, MD, MHS, is Director of the Office of Surveillance & Epidemiology in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, where he oversees adverse event surveillance and analysis, pharmacoepidemiology, risk management, and medication error prevention. A member of the WHO Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medicinal Products, he served on the Council of International Organization of Medical Sciences and the International Council on Harmonisation. He received his MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and his Master of Health Science in Clinical Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. Before joining FDA, he was a faculty member in Neurology at Johns Hopkins.

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