SALLY E. WENZEL was appointed chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, starting May 1. She comes to Pitt Public Health from Pitt's Department of Medicine, where she is the director of the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute and holds the UPMC Chair of Translational Airway Biology.
Wenzel earned her bachelor of science (Phi Beta Kappa) and medical degree at the University of Florida, and completed her internship, residency, and fellowship training at Wake Forest and the Medical College of Virginia. She is board certified in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine. From 1988 through 2006 she was on the faculty of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, rising from assistant professor to professor of medicine and holder of the Drs. Harold and Mary Zirin Chair in Pulmonary Biology. She joined the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine in 2006.
Wenzel's research focuses on asthma and airway disease. She has developed a detailed understanding of clinical asthma and defined subtypes, moving clinical practice beyond a paradigm of compliance/adherence as the primary issue in the treatment of asthma. Her laboratory studies similarly focus on phenotyping and molecular subtyping in order to understand the variants of the pathobiology of asthma and lung diseases. She has authored or co-authored over 275 medical and scientific peer reviewed articles and 35 book chapters and reviews. She is a recipient of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Elizabeth Rich Award and the ATS Foundation Breathing for Life Award, the highest award of the Foundation. In 2017, Wenzel received the European Respiratory Society’s Presidential Award which recognizes outstanding contributions to respiratory medicine worldwide.
As chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Wenzel will extend her work on airway disease to build a research program that spans clinical, bench, and environmental exposure science, amplifying the exceptional strengths already present in the department. She will expand the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute to create a University of Pittsburgh Asthma and Environmental Lung Health Center, operated jointly through the department of Environmental and Occupational Health and the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine in the School of Medicine. This center is planned to become a leader in environmental lung health in Western Pennsylvania, with world-wide impact. New activities will be focused on environmental and population health, epidemiological studies, computational modeling, and policy analyses, as well as advocacy for evidence-based public health interventions.