Valerie Opipari, MD
Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

Dr. Opipari is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Dr. Opipari has held a number of administrative roles at the University of Michigan including Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Pediatrics and Chair of the University of Michigan Biomedical Research Council. Most recently, Dr. Opipari served as the chair for the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases (2003 – 2018). Dr. Opipari’s earliest work in neonatal hemostasis remains the basis for contemporary understanding of physiologic clotting in normal newborns and premature infants. Her professional service/leadership contributions include the Association of American Medical Colleges, Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Academic Pediatric Department Chairs (AMSPDC), Society for Pediatric Research (SPR), American Pediatric Society, American Society for Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Make a Wish Foundation and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She is past president of AMSPDC. In 2107 she received the Founders Award from Midwest SPR for contributions to academic pediatrics and mentoring.

Dr. Valerie Opipari received her bachelor's degree from McGill University in Montreal and her medical degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. She completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at the University of Michigan in 1990 and joined the U-M faculty the same year. As an oncologist, she has led laboratory and translational teams working to improve outcomes in the childhood cancer neuroblastoma providing a molecular description of how extracellular matrix proteins, anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members, p53 and NF-B signaling cooperate during neuroblastoma tumorigenesis to modulate responses to drug treatments. Dr. Opipari’s research defining the importance of NF-B signaling in neuroblastoma led to her election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2005. As her career developed and academic leadership responsibilities increased, she remained focused on neuroblastoma research providing direction to a multi-disciplinary research team with the goal of finding effective therapeutic strategies for neuroblastoma based on the molecular understanding developed from her laboratory.

Dr. Opipari believes the challenges for Chairs and all leaders in academic medicine will include the pace at which our care models, research work and training have/will be impacted by how we have had to function in response to COVID-19 and the financial impact it has had on the health care industry and all of our communities. This coupled with the rapid advancement new technologies and electronic interfaces for distance care (video visits etc.), learning and research will drive innovation and challenge historic academic structures and approaches. She thinks, e-technologies and social media platforms are transforming society in both good and bad ways. For pediatrics this is especially challenging. Departments will have to have expertise to work effectively in these domains and through these challenges.

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