Gahagan named Chief of New Pediatrics Division at UC San Diego

Headshot of Dr. Sheila Gahagan

September 26th, La Jolla - Sheila Gahagan, MD, MPH, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Division Chief of Child Development and Community Health, has been recently appointed as Division Chief of Academic General Pediatrics, joining this group with the Division of Child Development and Community Health. The expansion will provide new opportunities for cross-collaboration in clinical care, education, research and other areas of scholarship.

 “This is an outstanding opportunity to create innovative programs across the 3 sections – Academic General Pediatrics, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, and the Pediatric Center for Community Health,” shares Gahagan. “The Division has considerable strength in research, health promotion activities and clinical care.  Combining these areas of expertise provides a platform for new collaborative initiatives. In addition, each of the 3 sections makes important contributions to the educational mission of the Department. Curricular development to enhance our educational programs will be a major goal for the expanded Division.”

As Division Chief of Child Development and Community Health for almost 3 years, Dr. Gahagan is well qualified to lead the newly formed Division that will incorporate general academic pediatrics and adolescent medicine as well. A Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician and epidemiologist, Dr. Gahagan’s NIH-funded research focuses on biological and psychosocial determinants of adolescent obesity/cardiovascular risk. Dr. Gahagan began her career as a General Pediatrician and Chief of Pediatrics at the Tuba City Indian Medical Center on the Navajo Reservation. For more than a decade, Dr. Gahagan maintained joint appointments and clinical work in general pediatrics and developmental-behavioral pediatrics at the University of Arizona and at the University of Michigan. During this period, Dr. Gahagan was the P.I. of several HRSA-funded grants for Faculty Development in General Academic Pediatrics and for Residency Training for Serving Underserved Patient Populations. She has also served in leadership roles in the AAP, representing General Pediatrics, including appointments to the national Committee on Native American Child Health and as President of the Michigan Chapter AAP.

Gahagan states that, “The new division is well positioned to lead in 4 areas that are key to the future of pediatrics:

  • New opportunities in prevention, the cornerstone of pediatrics, are imminent including those related to the genomic revolution.
  • Providing culturally effective care is increasingly important as communities diversify, health disparities widen, and increasing global movement creates new challenges.
  • The need for innovation in care for complex, chronic diseases and strategies for transitioning to adult care will grow.
  • Development of innovative strategies to improve quality and efficiency of care must come from academic medical centers.

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to join the outstanding group of Academic General Pediatricians to the Division of Child Development and Community Health. Stay tuned for the name of the new Division,” says Dr. Gabriel Haddad, Department Chair of Pediatrics, UC San Diego, Physician-in-Chief and Chief Scientific Officer, Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego.


Written by: Shivani Singh, M.S., Sr. Writer, Dept. of Pediatrics, UC San Diego, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.