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Virginia Caine

Faces of IUPUI: Virginia Caine

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Dr. Virginia Caine. Photo courtesy of Ruby Grosdidier

On April 9, 2019, Dr. Virginia A. Caine, M.D., received the 2019 Gerald L. Bepko IUPUI Community Medallion in honor of her 30-plus years of exemplary application of research to critical public health problems. Over the years, Dr. Caine has built a national reputation for creating innovative programs to promote and advance positive public health outcomes.

An infectious disease expert, Dr. Caine currently serves as Director of the Marion County Public Health Department and in that role has been instrumental in addressing critical public health issues in Indianapolis and around the country. In 2018, Dr. Caine launched a Safe Syringe Access & Support Program to help reduce the transmission of hepatitis C and HIV. She declared a public health emergency as a first step to establishing a syringe exchange program under state law. With unanimous support from the Indianapolis City-County Council, Marion County's first syringe exchange program was created. On April 10, 2019, the health department joined community leaders and partners for the unveiling of a mobile unit that will be used to help operate the program.

Dr. Caine also created the first nationwide AIDS physician education program for the National Medical Association, a program later duplicated by the American Medical Association. Locally, she established the first countywide HIV/AIDS integrated health care delivery system involving major hospitals, community health centers, and social service agencies, as well as the first HIV dental clinic. As co-director of the Indianapolis Healthy Babies Initiative, Dr. Caine worked with community leaders to reduce the African-American infant mortality rate to its lowest level ever in the history of the city.

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Dr. Caine receives the Amos Brown Award at Radio One's 50th Anniversary Celebration. Photo courtesy of Ruby Grosdidier

Dr. Caine joined the staff at the Indiana University School of Medicine as an assistant professor in 1984 and just last year was named an IU Bicentennial Professor. Her pioneering and collaborative research has improved public health delivery system efficiencies and reduced health disparities. Her focus on infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, the infant mortality rate, and childhood obesity has had tangible, lasting, and life-altering impact.

In addition to her service on the IUPUI Board of Advisors, Dr. Caine has served on committees for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2004, she served as president of the American Public Health Association, the nation's oldest and largest public health organization, and she has also served in various capacities on the Board of Trustees for the National Medical Association, the Managed Emergency Surge of Healthcare Coalition, the IU Simon Cancer Center Community Advisory Committee, and the National Biodefense Science Board, among other appointments.

Dr. Caine has received numerous local, state, and national honors, including two Sagamore of the Wabash Awards and the BioCrossroads Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year in 2017, among her many other accolades.

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Dr. Caine (left of center) with city and state leaders and local medical professionals who helped support the announcement of the safe syringe initiative in Marion County. Photo courtesy of Ruby Grosdidier