Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH
Recipient of the George R. Honig, MD, PhD, Endowed Professorship in Pediatrics

A Professorship named for George R. Honig, MD, PhD, will support the Head of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Now serving as Professor Emeritus, Dr. Honig was Head of the Department of Pediatrics from 1984 to 2004 and an internationally recognized investigator in Sickle Cell Disease. Dr. Honig founded and directed the University of Illinois Sickle Cell Center in 1971, encompassing programs in patient care, education, screening and counseling services, and clinical and laboratory-based research. The National Institutes of Health grant award received in support of the Center was, at that time, the largest NIH grant ever received by the University of Illinois (U of I). Dr. Honig’s research characterized the molecular structure of abnormal hemoglobin variants. He remained an active investigator until his retirement. During Dr. Honig’s tenure as Department Head of Pediatrics, the Medicine-Pediatric Residency and many other innovative educational programs were standardized and developed. He also established off-site care locations (Michael Reese Hospital) and stewarded the department through many administrative and financial challenges. Dr. Honig was known for his close interactions with medical students and residents, as well as for recruiting and developing an outstanding group of faculty colleagues and highly committed research associates. His daily participation in morning reports, along with his clinical acumen and insights, are long remembered by a generation of colleagues, students, and trainees. Dr. Honig’s work on behalf of the children of Chicago as Department Head and as a physician-scientist was recognized with the Chicago Pediatric Society Joseph P. Brenneman Award. Dr. Honig authored numerous scholarly articles, book chapters on medicine and biomedical science and scientific reports. He drew upon his experience as a physician, as well as his longstanding interest in history and religion, to write a novel, “The Alexandria Letter,” which was published by Synergy Books in 2010 (Ignite, 2018). Dr. Honig graduated from the Niles Township High School in Skokie, Illinois, and from there, he enrolled in the premed curriculum at the U of I at Urbana-Champaign. While attending the U of I College of Medicine, he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Harris Busch in the Department of Pharmacology in addition to his medical studies. After graduation from medical school, Dr. Honig became a pediatrics intern and subsequently a resident at the venerable Harriet Lane Home for Indigent Children in Baltimore, Maryland. He went on to become a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service and was assigned to the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, as a Research Associate. While there he also enrolled in a program that had been jointly developed between the NIH and George Washington University, through which he completed the requirements for a PhD degree in biochemistry. He then returned to Chicago to begin a fellowship in pediatric hematology and oncology with Dr. Irving Schulman at UIC. After completing his fellowship training, he was invited to remain at UIC, where he was appointed as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics; the following year he was promoted to Associate Professor. Dr. Honig also subsequently served as the Head of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the Children’s Memorial Hospital before returning to the University of Illinois in 1984.

Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, has been appointed as the inaugural recipient of the “George R. Honig, MD, PhD Endowed Professorship in Pediatrics,” in the College of Medicine by Michael Amiridis, Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Van Voorhees was appointed as Head of the Department of Pediatrics in 2017, after serving as interim head from 2015 to 2017. Dr. Van Voorhees is an internationally recognized, innovative physician/scientist focusing on information and communication technology, systems re-design, and clinical epidemiology to prevent the onset of chronic disease in childhood and adolescence. As an educator, clinician, and administrative leader, his vision has transformed the future of healthcare delivery for Chicago’s communities. He has developed multiple patient focused health technology applications, directed five randomized clinical trials, received over $30 million in research funding, and authored more than seventy-five scientific publications and one hundred scientific conference presentations. In his leadership role in the Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Van Voorhees launched and continues to oversee a major strategic planning process to strengthen excellence in education, research, patient care, and commitment to the community. As a key part of this strategic plan, the he has worked to develop and grow affiliations and partnerships with Shriner’s Hospital for Children – Chicago, the Mile Square Federally Qualified Health Center, and other University and community organizations. He has led the UI Children’s Hospital to demonstrate outcomes aligned with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Triple Aim (cost reductions, population health, and quality improvement including increased patient satisfaction). UI Children’s Hospital was ranked for the first time as among one of Illinois “Best Children’s Hospitals” by the U.S. News & World Report. Departmental research and philanthropic funding and has more than doubled, faculty publications have increased substantially, and the Department’s NIH funding Blue Ridge Rank has improved significantly. Dr. Van Voorhees received his BA in history from Dartmouth College. After serving as an officer in the US Navy onboard the USS Lockwood, he attended the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and completed his combined Internal Medicine-Pediatric Residency at Vanderbilt University Hospital. Following residency training, he founded and for six years managed a community primary care practice in Brentwood, Tennessee. Dr. Van Voorhees completed a General Internal Medicine Fellowship and a Master of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. He was then appointed Assistant Professor of Medicine in Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine from 2003 to 2011 where he also served as the Director of the Medicine/Pediatrics Residency before coming to UIC in 2011 to serve as Chief, Section of General Pediatrics.