Donald S. Burke served as dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health from 2006 to 2019, the school’s longest serving dean. He also served as associate vice chancellor for global health at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the first occupant of the Jonas Salk Chair in Population Health. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Burke received his BA from Western Reserve University and his MD from Harvard Medical School. He was an intern and resident in medicine at Boston City and Massachusetts General hospitals and trained as a research fellow in infectious diseases at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He has studied prevention and control of infectious diseases of global concern, including HIV/AIDS, influenza, Japanese encephalitis, dengue, and emerging infectious diseases.
He lived six years in Thailand, worked extensively in Cameroon, and conducted collaborative vaccine and epidemiology studies in India, China, South Africa, and other countries. He served 23 years on active duty in the U.S. Army researching the prevention of diseases of military importance, and nine years on faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Burke joined the University of Pittsburgh in 2006 where, as dean of Pitt Public Health, he founded the Pitt Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, an academic team that develops computational models and simulations of epidemic infectious diseases and other dynamic public health problems and uses these simulations to evaluate prevention and control strategies. He now leads a school-wide initiative aimed at controlling the opioid epidemic. He has been a member of the Allegheny County Health Department since 2008. Burke is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, a past-president of the American Society for Tropical Diseases and Hygiene, and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (U.S.A).
Burke urges the University and local community to utilize the power of the search for a new dean and other current vacancies: “This is a time of transition — of the health department, myself, Dr. Levine — this presents an opportunity for the community and region,” Burke said in a recent Pittsburgh Post Gazette article. “What do we really want as our priorities in health over the next decade or so?” Decisions made in the next year, including the choice of leadership, could have a significant impact, he added.