Dr. Robert J. Visalli Appointed Chair of MUSM Department of Biomedical Sciences in Savannah


SAVANNAH – Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) Dean Jean R. Sumner, M.D., announced recently that Robert J. Visalli, Ph.D., has been appointed chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences for the Savannah campus.

Dr. Visalli, who also serves as associate professor of microbiology, joined the MUSM faculty in May 2012. In July 2015, he was named interim chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

“Dr. Visalli is committed to continuing a strong focus on research while offering our students an exceptional educational experience based on a foundation of biomedical science. His work and leadership is a tremendous asset to Mercer University School of Medicine and the larger scientific community,” said Dr. Sumner.

During his 30 years of research on human herpes virus, Dr. Visalli has been involved in the development of an attenuated herpes simplex virus vaccine candidate and the discovery of a novel class of thiourea compounds amenable to antiviral chemotherapy.

His dedication to his research and teaching is evidenced by consistent publication in top peer-reviewed virology journals, continuous National Institutes of Health and American Society of Microbiology grant review service, and acquisition of external research funding specifically for the inclusion of students.

“This new appointment is a very important milestone for our ever-growing four-year medical school campus in Savannah,” said William F. Bina III, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the Savannah campus. “Dr. Visalli brings an abundant wealth of knowledge and experience to bear on our basic medical science curriculum and ever-growing biomedical research enterprise in Savannah.”

Dr. Visalli earned his bachelor's degree in microbiology from Indiana University Bloomington and his Ph.D. in medical microbiology and immunology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He completed postdoctoral training at the Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine Hershey Medical Center.

He previously served as assistant professor at the University of Evansville, adjunct assistant professor at Western Connecticut University and Mount Saint Mary College, senior research scientist at Wyeth and Wyeth Vaccines, and assistant and associate professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

“I'm honored to serve Mercer School of Medicine faculty and students as chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences,” said Dr. Visalli. “My success as a mentor and teacher depends on my ability to positively impact students, both intellectually and personally. My mission at the School of Medicine is to create an environment for free thinking, promote inquiry, generate excitement for science via research, and to teach our future physicians microbiology in a clinically relevant manner.” 

About the Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University's School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened a full four-year campus in Savannah in 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. In 2012, the School began offering clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students in Columbus. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School's primary teaching hospitals: Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and Midtown Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master's degrees in family therapy, preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.