Leading Infectious Diseases and Public Health Expert Takes the Helm of the
Nation’s Oldest and Largest Organization for Black Doctors
The National Medical Association (NMA), the nation’s oldest and largest organization representing over 50,000 African American physicians and the patients they serve, recently elected Virginia A. Caine, MD in New Orleans, Louisiana as its 125th President-Elect of this prestigious organization. Dr. Caine is the director and chief medical officer of the Marion County Public Health Department. She is also an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine Infectious Diseases Division. And she has served as the past President for the American Public Health Association, the nation’s oldest and largest public health organization in the country.
Recently, Dr. Caine was appointed by President Joe Biden and the White House to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors, a 15 member Federal Advisory Committee to provide technical assistance, guidance and recommendations to the Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding all Infectious Diseases. She was also appointed chair of one of the Federal Advisory Committee’s two standing committees. Dr. Caine has a national reputation for her work in public health at the Marion County Public Health Department and has worked tirelessly to promote and advance public health through innovative programs and unprecedented collaborations. She was instrumental in setting up the first nationwide physician educational program regarding AIDS for the National Medical Association, which was later duplicated by the American Medical Association.
Dr. Caine has received countless distinguished credits and awards. Among them was the Dean’s Medal of Excellence from the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health. The Dean’s Medal of Excellence is the Dean’s highest recognition, awarded to public health and health administration leaders who have made a significant impact in their field. She received the BioCrossroads “2017 August M. Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year” Award, the first black and first women to receive this award. In 2020, the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) named her as one of the 40 Influential People of the past 40 years, as they celebrated 40 Years of Progress in Indianapolis. In 2021, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb awarded her with the Circle of Corydon Award, the highest award for service.
She led numerous public health initiatives locally and nationally. She lead a county-wide process with local primary care agencies dealing with HIV/AIDS, to create the city’s first integrated HIV health care delivery system. She was principal investigator for the Ryan White Title III funds, which established the first HIV/AIDS clinics in the major city hospitals, 10 community health centers, and the resource for many community-based HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Dr. Caine was instrumental in helping to establish the COVID-19 safety precautions for 2021 March Madness, the Final Four NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and the Indy 500. She continues to be responsible for the overall safety and protection of the Marion County residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. And Indianapolis once had the distinction of having the highest Black infant mortality rate in the country. As Co-Director of the Indianapolis Healthy Babies Initiative, she was instrumental with community leaders in an effort that reduced the Black infant mortality rate to 46%, the lowest level in the history of Indianapolis, IN.
Dr. Caine has served on the NMA Board in several roles including as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the NMA, Chair of the NMA Internal Medicine Section, and current chair of the NMA Infectious Diseases Section, NMA Co-chair of the HIV Section, and member of the NMA COVID-19 Task Force. She is a board member for the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Editorial Board. She is also Chair of the Managed Emergency Surge for Healthcare (MESH) Coalition, a nonprofit public-private partnership addressing emergency preparedness in Marion County, Indiana, as well as Chair, the I.U. Simon Cancer Center Community Advisory Committee. She is a past member of the National Biodefense Science Board, a federal committee which provides expert advice and guidance to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness. She is Chair, Jump in for Healthy Kids Advisory Committee; Founding member, Indiana Health Information Exchange; and Board member, Indiana Latino Institute. She is Chair of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute External Advisory Board and member of Regenstrief Institute and a past member of the Indiana COVID Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Workgroup.
Garfield Clunie, MD, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York University Langone Health and vice chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Department, a leading expert in women’s health and health equity, who recently stepped down as president of NMA, shared a Bertrand Piccard quote, “Pioneering spirits should continue, not to conquer the planet or space but rather to improve the quality of life.” The NMA will be the beneficiary of Virginia’s unselfish commitment and indomitable lifeforce to improve our organization, its physician members, and the patients they serve. Dr. Caine will be an incredible leader for the NMA with her transformative visions and resilience as well as her tenacity as a thought-leader and role model. She is recognized for her innovative solutions for healthcare systems change, particularly health disparities, through community engagement, public-private partnerships, and fierce advocacy for vulnerable populations and equitable access to healthcare.