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Tuesday, August 21, 2012
A longtime champion for children, Dr. Perrin aspires to lead the American Academy of Pediatrics during a pivotal time in healthcare history.
On the jacket lapel of James Perrin, MD, FAAP, a red pin bears the words “I care for kids and I vote.” With a career dedicated to advocacy for children and years of work on policy issues relating to children, Dr. Perrin’s badge suits him well. His pin resembles more than his character, though. The 2012 campaign badge means Dr. Perrin, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and chief of general pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC), is striving to become the next President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
After decades of leadership experience including past president of the Academic Pediatric Association, former chairman of the AAP Committee on Children with Disabilities and founder of the MGHfC Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, Dr. Perrin is now running for a position that would allow him to impact the lives of children and families in an even greater way during the country’s ongoing healthcare reform debate.
“At this particular time, it seemed to me a very exciting opportunity to seek the presidency,” Dr. Perrin says. “The Affordable Care Act, which was happily upheld by the Supreme Court, is so incredibly important for children and pediatricians, and I’d like to spend a good chunk of time in the next few years really working to make sure that we do everything we can to make it work well. Healthcare reform is very important, and it is especially important for us in pediatrics.”
Dr. Perrin conducts rounds with a senior resident on the general pediatric wards at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
The Affordable Care Act focuses particularly on preventing chronic illness, which Dr. Perrin says he hopes will also benefit children. His research has focused on asthma, children’s hospitalization, chronic illness and disabilities, and he has also supported Supplemental Security Income for low-income children with severe mental and physical issues.
“Jim Perrin has been a tireless and highly effective advocate for the right of all children in the United States to have equal access to health care,” says Ronald Kleinman, MD, physician-in-chief of MGHfC. “Jim's work in autism, asthma, attention deficit and other chronic disorders has benefitted so many children. He is a true leader, both in thought and action, and I'm honored to work with him and support his candidacy for the Presidency of the AAP with the utmost enthusiasm.”
While providing a strong voice for the implementation of affordable healthcare is one of Dr. Perrin’s priorities in the presidency, he says he is also committed to increasing diversity in the pediatric work force and providing mentorship opportunities for young pediatricians.
“Dr. Perrin has mentored a huge number of people who have made important contributions in the pediatrics field, and I think his opinions and perspectives are widely respected,” says Peter Greenspan, MD, vice chair of Pediatrics and medical director of MGHfC. “His network is really first rate and will serve him well.”
Dr. Perrin’s love for mentoring and helping young people began during his teenage years as a summer camp counselor, where he became fascinated by the ways children learn and grow. He went to Harvard University knowing he would pursue a career dedicated to children either as a teacher or a doctor, eventually deciding “medicine was more fun.” Dr. Perrin graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and completed his residency and fellowship at the Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester.
After his fellowship, Dr. Perrin developed and ran a rural community health center in upstate New York, which is now providing medical, dental and obstetric services in eight rural towns in that part of the state. He then moved to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and developed a general pediatrics division there much like the one he leads at MGHfC. Dr. Perrin is also the founding editor of Academic Pediatrics (formerly known as Ambulatory Pediatrics), which is the journal of the American Pediatric Association.
Over the past five years, Dr. Perrin’s research has focused mainly on children with chronic diseases, particularly children with autism. His efforts have lead to his founding the Clinical Coordinating Center for the National Autism Treatment Network, which is a North American network of seventeen academic health centers dedicated to finding better ways to treat medical conditions children with autism have.
“There are lots of things you can do in medicine that are really to support families. And one of the real pleasures of being a general pediatrician is having the ability to watch families develop over time,” Dr. Perrin says. “Like any other good clinician, I’m always interested in learning from my patients and listening carefully when moms and dads and children tell me their stories.”
Dr. Perrin’s own family story includes his wife, Ellen Perrin, MD, MA, FAAP, who is also a pediatrician, and two sons. Together they enjoy visiting their grandchildren and nurturing their ever-changing garden in Brookline.
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