Philip S. Larussa


Dr. Philip LaRussa is a pediatric infectious disease specialist with four decades of experience in clinical and epidemiological infectious diseases research in local and global settings. He received an M.D. degree from the Università degli Studì in Bologna, Italy in 1978, completed residency training in Pediatrics (1978-1981), and a fellowship training in pediatric Infectious diseases (1981-1981) at New York University-Bellevue Hospital Medical Center, New York. He was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, in New York from 1983-1986. From 2000-2019, he was Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University School of Medicine, and since 2019, he is emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at the same institution.

His research interests include the pathogenesis, immune response, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of varicella zoster virus infections in children. He developed the first PCR assay to distinguish varicella vaccine virus from wild-type strain, which allowed the accurate differentiation of adverse events due to the vaccine from complications of wild-type infection, and described the effectiveness of varicella vaccine in healthy and immunocompromised hosts. He also described important co-factors influencing the perinatal transmission of HIV and outcomes of perinatally infected infants. He was the principal investigator for the Women and Infants Transmission Study (WITS IV: 2001-2007), and of the NIH-funded International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent Clinical Trials site at Columbia University Medical Center and director of its the on-site retrovirus study laboratory from 2006-2013. Since 2001, his research has focused on immunization safety issues, and has been the Principal Investigator for the CDC-funded Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Center at Columbia University Medical Center. During the last ten years he has also focused on capacity assessment, and capacity building research projects in sub-Saharan Africa, and has recently completed a study of capacity in 24 hospitals that care for children in sub-Saharan Africa.

He has been a member of numerous national and international advisory committees including the Brighton Collaboration Working Group for development of case definitions for smallpox vaccine associated adverse events (2003-2005), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Subcommittee on varicella vaccination (2004-2006), the F.D.A. Advisory Committee on Vaccines & Related Biological Products (2004 – 2008), Chair of the NIH NIAID Influenza Research Collaboration (NIRC) Combination Therapy Focus Group (2009 – 2010), Member, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, National Vaccine Advisory Committee [NVAC] (2011 – 2015), Co-chair, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) Global Immunization Working Group (2012-2014), Member, W.H.O. Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization Working Group on Varicella & Zoster vaccines (2012 – 2014), and Member, F.D.A., Pediatric Advisory Committee (2012 – 2016). He is the author of 164 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and 28 chapters in textbooks.