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Who's Who: Meredith McCormack, MD, MHS

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Meredith McCormack, MD, MHS
Associate Professor of Medicine and Environmental Health Sciences
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Johns Hopkins University


Three statements about you – two true, one false.  (We tease each new Who’s Who with statements about each featured person – two of which are true, one of which is false, all to be revealed in the last answer.)

  • I was fired from my first job at Dairy Queen.
  • I sang with Luciano Pavarotti when I was growing up.
  • I was a ropes course instructor in high school. 


Give us your ‘elevator pitch’ biography.

I have been passionate about protecting the environment since prior to entering the medical field so in many ways, I think my career is coming full circle.  I was actively involved in conservation efforts in high school and college. As I began my training in medicine at Jefferson Medical College, integrating this interest into my career was always in the back of my mind. My role models at Jefferson Medical College ignited my interest in Pulmonary Medicine and introduced me to clinical research.  

Fellowship training at Johns Hopkins allowed me to pursue my specific interest at the intersection of environmental and lung health with incredible mentors.  I joined the Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban Environment and continue to work with this multidisciplinary team that has expanded to become the Bridging Research Lung Health and the Environment -BREATHE Center.  I have hadblock-island.jpeg opportunities to study environmental health disparities and air pollution health effects in asthma and COPD.    Today, the most rewarding aspect of my career is engaging with our fellows and junior faculty.  This is energizing and keeps it fun.

I have had the honor to serve on the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee and work with this amazing group to translate research findings to inform policy.  A benefit of living in Baltimore is our proximity to Washington D.C., and the ATS has provided opportunities to actively engage in promoting policies that protect our environment and health. 

My other job and privilege is being a mom to three boys - Asher (13), Kellan and Finley (10) - and our puppy Sammy.   My kids have been in virtual school for a year now.  We have had a lot of fun trying new recipes and cooking together while they have been spending so much time at home.  It has been an interesting adventure and I am sure we will look back on these days as a unique chapter in our lives. 



  • What would you tell yourself as an Early Career Professional?

Keep putting yourself out there!   I have been very fortunate to have inspiring mentors and sponsors from my own institutions but also from meeting leaders in the field at ATS meetings.  When I was a fellow, there was an initiative to include fellows on ATS committees.  Robert Wise, MD nominated me for the PFT (Proficiency Standards for Pulmonary Function Testing) Committee, and this was a great way to meet leaders in the field.  That same year, I attended a Pro/Con debate that Paul Enright, MD, was hosting and introduced myself to him after the session.  He invited me to give a talk the following year and introduced me to the other speakers, leaders in the field who have now become friends and colleagues.  Getting a little outside of my comfort zone and introducing myself (and asking mentors to make introductions) was enormously helpful.  This interaction as a fellow led to an appointment on the PFT committee. This year, I have the opportunity to serve as chair of the PFT Committee and we are actively looking for ways to involve early career professionals.


  • If you weren’t in medicine, and were in a different industry altogether, what would you be?

It is hard to imagine being in another field.  I love the constant challenge and variety in what I do. I would worry about becoming bored in other fields.  I do love being outdoors so perhaps I would think about careers that may take me in that direction. Maybe I can apply to be an Outward Bound instructor once I retire.


  • What is your favorite way to spend a day off?

It depends on the season.  During the summer, it would be spending a day at the beach.  During theimg_4180.jpg winter, it would be skiing.  During the spring and fall, biking with my kids.  Ideally, the bike ride takes us by an ice cream shop!


  • What areas of medicine are you most excited to see develop?

I am excited about the future of Precision Medicine and application of big data to address new questions and advance our ability to care for patients.  Harnessing data from the electronic health record, wearables and multi-omics platforms is an enormous undertaking.  Forging new partnerships with data scientists has the potential to accelerate science and advance prevention as well as treatment strategies.  I am especially optimistic about the ability to better define environmental drivers of disease and susceptibility factors that may determine future prevention strategies for conditions such as asthma and COPD.


  • What is one advancement in your field you’d like to see in your career?

Obesity associated asthma is increasingly common, associated with excess morbidity, and refractory to conventional therapies.  I have recently focused on metabolic drivers of asthma.   I am excited to see how this story unfolds and new therapeutic targets that can be applied to improve asthma outcomes.  I anticipate that these advancements will have impact in the short and medium term for many of our patients.


  • Ok. Which statement did you make up?

I did not sing with Luciano Pavarotti, but my husband (fellow ATS member Stephen Mathai, MD, MHS) did.  He is the musician in the family. 

I also did not technically get fired from Dairy Queen, but I was not rehired for a second summer.  Working in the food and restaurant industry growing up taught me a lot of valuable lessons.