Meet the Chief
Michael R. Nelson, MD, PhD joined the Division of Asthma, Allergy, and Clinical Immunology as its Division Chief in November of 2020 as Professor of Medicine. Dr. Nelson humbly assumed the role from Dr. Thomas A.E. Platts-Mills following his over 27 years in that position. Dr. Nelson returns to UVA after a distinguished 25 years of highly decorated service in the U.S. Army and an additional year out of uniform as the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences Chair of the Allergy and Immunology Division and staff faculty member at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He has served as a program director, department chief, Director of Army Graduate Medical Education, and Chief Consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General, Director of Education, Training, and Research at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and vice-chair of the ACGME Allergy and Immunology Review Committee. Dr. Nelson has consistently advocated for the specialty of allergy and immunology on a national scale through committee and task force service at the FDA, AMA, USP, and most recently as a member of the Vision for the Future Commission on Continuing Certification sponsored by the ABMS.
Dr. Nelson received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University on an ROTC scholarship before attending the University of Virginia School of Medicine and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences where he received his MD and PhD degrees. He then completed his internship year at the University of Virginia before beginning his military career. He completed an internal medicine residency at Eisenhower Army Medical Center in GA and turned down a chief residency position to pursue a highly competitive allergy-immunology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. Dr. Nelson then completed an additional fellowship in Clinical Laboratory Immunology before embarking on his military career marked by department, medical center, academic division, Army-wide graduate medical education, and specialty leadership positions. Dr. Nelson also has been recognized for his leadership and dedication to the specialty by multiple organizations. For example, he now serves as the President and CEO of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, the premier organization certifying allergists and immunologists nationwide.
Dr. Nelson met his wife, Karen, while both were at UVA. Karen recently retired from an active career as a speech pathologist. They are blessed with two great children: Victoria and Max, both of whom are Wahoos. Max is a 3rd-year undergraduate student who was recently notified he was selected for residency on the lawn during his final year. Victoria is a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy at the Bataan School following her graduation from Villanova with honors last year. Dr. Nelson and Karen are beaming with pride over their two children and for being a family of Hoos.
Dr. Nelson has returned to UVA on numerous occasions since his initial education and training. He and Karen have enjoyed their many return visits to see their children, friends, football games, and the UVA Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology Division’s annual Swineford Conference. He has also faithfully served as an annual distinguished lecturer in the Summer Medical Leadership Program (formerly MAAP and SMDEP) where he has shared his unique journey in medicine with underrepresented pre-health career students. He looks forward to new opportunities to actively contribute to UVA Health and UVA School of Medicine’s growing mission of serving communities of color in areas of healthcare, research, and inspiring pursuit of healthcare careers.
Dr. Nelson is grateful to rejoin UVA and to serve and lead an amazing collection of physician-scientists, post-docs, fellows, and staff so fully committed to advancing the care of patients, the specialty, and UVA. He is quick to mention that he has no pretense to “replace” after so many years of dedicated service and extraordinary leadership his longstanding friend, predecessor, and mentor, Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills. Instead, he looks forward to complementing and continuing the nationally acclaimed work of Dr. Platts-Mills and the Division faculty. Dr. Nelson states this was a unique opportunity that he couldn’t pass up to rejoin family, friends, and colleagues at an institution that has remained near and dear to his heart throughout his career. He looks forward to leveraging his vast leadership experiences to make a difference for patients, the Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Division, the Department of Medicine, and UVA.