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Pamela Xaverius named inaugural associate dean for research and scholarship

By Daniel P. Smith 

Loyola University Chicago’s Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health welcomes Pamela Xaverius, PhD, as its inaugural associate dean for research and scholarship.

An award-winning researcher with a distinguished record of practice-based experience, a commitment to mentorship, and an affinity for the Jesuit mission, Xaverius is tasked to oversee, expand, and strengthen Parkinson’s entire research and scholarly enterprise.

“Building and creating is energizing and this role at the Parkinson School offers an opportunity to contribute to an institution on the rise and one with a noble mission,” says Xaverius, a Chicago native excited to return to her hometown.

Driving research and scholarship

Elaine Morrato, DrPH, MPH, founding dean of the Parkinson School, calls Xaverius a strong translational researcher with an intimate understanding of building academic research capacity and applying knowledge to inform practice and uplift health systems and lives.

“Pamela is a researcher of the highest caliber, a willing collaborator and coach, and an experienced public health professional eager to support and drive Parkinson’s continued evolution,” Morrato says.

Xaverius, who will also serve as professor of public health sciences at Parkinson, joins Loyola following a nearly two-year stint as vice president of research and scholarly activity at the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy (UHSP) in St. Louis. There, Xaverius led efforts to improve UHSP’s research infrastructure, diversify its research revenue streams, and cultivate interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration. She also spearheaded the grant application that founded the Center for Equity Health Science Careers at UHSP.

Xaverius’s work at Parkinson will carry a similar flavor while allowing her to resume her own research activities and return to interacting with students, two prized ingredients Xaverius missed during her administrative role at UHSP.

A passion for research that informs public health practice

Xaverius, who studies maternal and child health with a life-course perspective, developed a passion for research as the founding maternal and child health epidemiologist for the state of Missouri. In that role, she directed all research-related issues for children, families, and mothers across the 6 million-resident state.

Later joining the faculty at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice, Xaverius continued building her research credentials. She and landed more than $3 million in funding from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and published dozens of peer-reviewed papers in addition to technical reports and conference abstracts.

Given her research productivity, Xaverius began mentoring junior colleagues in grant writing and was named founding director of St. Louis University’s Maternal and Child Health Center of Excellence in Education, Science, and Practice, an academic-practice partnership providing scholars academic, research, leadership, and practical training.

“A researcher myself, I’ve written every type of grant in my career and those are experiences I can share to support and empower others,” says Xaverius, who has also served on grant review panels for the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Elevating the Parkinson School

Over her first three months at Parkinson, Xaverius has set an ambitious plan to listen, learn, and formulate thoughtful efforts to bolster the school’s research and scholarly enterprise, which includes broadening the school’s research and funding opportunities as well as its scholarship and community-engaged research.

Xaverius also aims to develop relationships with community partners, pursue school-level grant opportunities to enhance areas such as workforce development and student recruitment, and promote research opportunities among Parkinson’s student body.

“When students get involved with research it makes for higher-quality learning experiences,” Xaverius says.

Noting that the first part of Parkinson’s mission is to advance knowledge through innovative research, Xaverius looks to generate and share knowledge with journals, in the classroom, and with community partners.

“Ultimately, this role is about impact,” she says. “I want us to leverage knowledge to have an impact and make the world a better place.”