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Dr. Edwards received her medical degree at the University of Iowa and her residency and fellowship training at Northwestern University and Rush Medical School in Chicago, IL. Dr. Edwards joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1980 and currently holds the Sarah H. Sell Chair and Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Pediatrics and serves as the Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program.

She has conducted pivotal research on pediatric and adult vaccines for over thirty years, studying most of the vaccines that have been licensed for routine use since that time. She has been very involved in formulating vaccine policy for the United States through her membership on advisory committees of the NIH, FDA, CDC and WHO. She received the Mentorship Award from the Infectious Disease Society of America in 2006 and from the Society for Pediatric Research in 2014 for her commitment to mentoring young investigators. Many of her mentees are leading their own vaccine initiatives throughout the world.

Her clinical work is focused on preventing and managing infectious diseases in children.

Dr. Edwards is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and is on the Advisory Council of the American Pediatric Society and the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2008, she was elected to the Institute of Medicine, and in 2009 was named a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science.

She is currently actively engaged in the study of the vaccines in pregnant women.