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MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Virginia A. Caine, M.D.

Picture of Virginia A. Caine
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Virginia A. Caine, M.D.

“My uncle was a physician and my father a medic during World War II, plus he was chairman of the college biology department and a pre–med counselor. It was very powerful to watch my uncle treat his patients. They both encouraged my interest in medicine. And as an African–American, I was deeply moved by seeing our people not be able to get the level of specialty care that others got!”


Julia Carson


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Virginia Caine has a gift for keeping things simple and focused, which serves her very well in today's complex, post–9—11 world. For example, when concern and controversy raged over vaccinating public health workers against possible terrorist attack using smallpox, Caine was unequivocal about what she would do as Marion County Health Department Director: “It's our responsibility to be prepared to protect the public health. By having these public health and hospital workers vaccinated, we are increasing the ability of the public health system to respond to and to control a smallpox outbreak.”

When she is not on duty in Indianapolis, the infectious disease expert can be found in Washington, DC, advocating nationally and internationally for better public health as the 2004 President of the American Public Health Association. She devotes the majority of her “normal” time as Associate Professor of Medicine for the Infectious Disease division of the Indiana University School of Medicine, a post she accepted in 1994 after a decade of being an Assistant Professor in the same department.

She is active in several professional societies including the National Association of County $ City Health Officials; the National Medical Association, where she is Chair, Infectious Diseases and Co-Chair, AIDS Section; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she is on the Committee on Credentialing for the Public Health Workforce and the Bio–terrorism and Emergency Preparedness Committee; and the Department of Health and Human Services Steering Committee for the Bright Futures for Women Initiative.

Professional organizations which Caine has served over the years include the Executive Board of the American Public Health Association; The American Venereal Disease Association; National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine's Committee on Prevention and Control of STDs; National Committee for Quality Assurance, HEDIS — Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set; Department of Health and Human Services, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, National Coordinating Committee on Clinical and Preventive Services; and the Department of Health and Human Services 'Healthy People 2000– Review on Clinical Preventive Services.

Back in Indiana commitments include co–directing the Indianapolis Campaign for Healthy Babies Initiative, and serving on the boards of the Damien AIDS Center; Fairbanks Hospital (Substance Abuse); Indiana AIDS Fund, and the Indianapolis Alliance for Health Promotion. She also is a member of the Indiana State Women's Health Committee, the Community Drug Summit, the Mayor's Commission on Family Violence, the Indiana Public Health Association, the City of Indianapolis Mayor's Emergency Preparedness Task Force, and the Women's Fund of Central Indiana Advisory Board.

Caine's numerous honors include the American Public Health Association's "New Leadership" Award; Indiana AIDServe "1998 Superstar Award"; WFYI "Speaking of Women's Health Leadership"; Indianapolis Business Journal—The Indiana Lawyer "Influential Women in Indianapolis"; The National Medical Association's "1999 Internist of the Year"; the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Incorporated "Outstanding Service Award"; Indianapolis Business Journal "2002 Health Care Heroes" and "Who's Who in Health Care"; and Indiana State Health Commissioner Award for "Excellence in Public Health."

A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, in Minnesota, she earned her medical degree at the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse and did a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati. She received her Infectious Disease training at the University of Washington, in Seattle.



Becomes Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Indiana University School of Medicine


Becomes Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Indiana University School of Medicine


Appointed Director, Marion County Health Department, Indianapolis


Elected President, American Public Health Association, the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health




State University of New York, Upstate Medical School, Syracuse


Internal Medicine

Sub Specialty

Infectious Diseases