In his new role, Dr. Strickland will oversee the Graduate Program in Life Sciences (GPILS) and the Office of Postdoctoral Scholars. GPILS provides cutting-edge research training in basic, biomedical, clinical and population science. The Postdoctoral Scholars Program supports the school’s postdoctoral research scholars by fostering a sense of community, new collaborations, career development opportunities and guidance. Dr. Strickland will continue serving as professor in the Departments of Surgery and Physiology and as director of the Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases.
"Dr. Strickland is an outstanding scientist who has made invaluable contributions to our research enterprise and academic community," says Dean Reece, who is also vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "He has demonstrated a tremendous long term commitment to research and graduate education. Dr. Strickland is the ideal leader to guide our already-strong graduate and postdoctoral programs into an even brighter future."
Dr. Strickland replaces Margaret M. McCarthy, PhD, who has been promoted to chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics. "Dr. McCarthy has done an excellent job in her six years in this role, transforming the program and leading it to national prominence," says Dean Reece. "We are most grateful to her, and are certain she will excel in her new chair role."
In his new role, Dr. Strickland will coordinate student recruitment and support, supervise the development of curricula, oversee faculty membership in the program and work to raise internal and external funding to support graduate education at the School of Medicine.
"There is a significant correlation between the students and postdoctoral fellows in medical and dental schools’ graduate and postdoctoral program and the success of its research program," says Dr. Strickland. "The reality is that the students and post-doctoral fellows are the ones on the ground in our laboratories that conduct the research. To have a vital research program, you need to have great graduate and postdoctoral programs as well."
“These graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are the future of science, medicine and dentistry,” says Christian S. Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent, dean of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. “We need a strong leader for these programs to keep them at the cutting edge. I’m certain Dr. Strickland will excel in advancing our two schools and keeping these programs competitive.”
Dr. McCarthy leaves a strong graduate program for a new leader to step into, and Dr. Strickland plans to continue the program's upward growth and expansion. "In the past six years, the graduate program has been elevated into the national arena," he says. "We are competitive in an extremely competitive field, able to attract the very best students. We're in a great position to get even better."
Dr. Strickland currently has nearly $2 million in research funding. He is a cell biologist who studies certain cell receptors and their role in protecting the vasculature from the development of disease, such as atherosclerosis. In addition, he investigates their role in other diseases as well, including Alzheimer’s. In unraveling the basic mechanisms of this activity, he hopes to gain a better understanding of how diseases develop to provide insight into potential therapies.
Dr. Strickland earned his B.S. degree in Chemistry from Southern Nazarene University (1973) in Bethany, Oklahoma, and he then went on to earn his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas (1978). From 1978 to 1981, Dr. Strickland continued his training as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Notre Dame. In 1982, Dr. Strickland began his work at the American Red Cross in Rockville, MD, where he remained until 2004. From 1995 to 2004, Dr. Strickland was a professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at The George Washington University, and from 1997-2004, he served as director of the Biochemistry Program in the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, also at George Washington.
He was recruited to the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 2004 from the Jerome H. Holland Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences in Rockville, MD, the research enterprise of the American Red Cross. There, he was the head of vascular biology research for the Red Cross. Dr. Strickland brought with him to the School of Medicine a team of 15 senior faculty members with more than $10 million in research funding. The team formed the basis of the Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases, which was created in 2005 with Dr. Strickland at its helm.
Researchers at the Center for Vascular Biology include experts in stem-cell research, vascular biology, biochemistry, microbiology and immunology. Under Dr. Strickland’s leadership, they investigate the biological systems that may lead to new treatments for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. The center’s basic scientists work closely with the School of Medicine faculty physicians who provide care to patients suffering from such conditions, broadening their understanding of disease.
Dr. Strickland is a highly regarded scientist and has received numerous awards and honors. He has been selected as an NIH Individual Postdoctoral Fellow, and he has received a Research Career Development Award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH. He was selected to receive the Tiffany Award for Technical Excellence by the American Red Cross Biomedical Services (1995), and he was honored with the Distinguished Researcher Award by The George Washington University (1996).
Dr. Strickland has served on many study sections, program project grant teams, and panels for the NIH and NSF. He has trained 20 postdoctoral fellows and nine pre-doctoral students, and he has served on 13 thesis committees. He has also been a tremendously productive scholar, publishing 175 refereed journal articles, 15 invited reviews and commentaries and seven edited books and book chapters. Dr. Strickland also holds two patents with two more pending.
“Dr. Strickland is a world-class scientist with a long record of groundbreaking research and strong leadership,” says Dean Reece. “His distinguished career makes him an exemplary role model for our students. I am confident he will elevate our graduate and postdoctoral program to new heights.”