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University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean Assembles New Distinguished Research Leadership Team

Friday, May 03, 2013

Dean E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.
 Dean Reece

University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., has appointed a new and robust Research Leadership Team of six (6) members to aggressively advance our biomedical research enterprise to the next level of excellence through a special program described as “continuum research initiative.” 


“This new research team, composed of world class research scientists and leaders, will pursue both conventional and non-conventional avenues to expand our research portfolio and to garner and retain increased research grants and contracts,” says Dean Reece, who is also Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor of the School of Medicine. “Each of these excellent leaders has his own research programs and strengths, and will focus on an individual area along the continuum of research, while working together as well. Through collaboration, this team will strengthen our entire continuum of research, promoting research and discovery at every level of our academic institution — among medical and graduate residents, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty at all levels. Emphasizing this concept of ‘continuum research’ is the pathway toward the research zenith to which we aspire. This collaboration will accelerate the development of new medical discoveries, moving groundbreaking basic science findings to the clinic faster than ever, ultimately impacting human health.”


Robin PiersonThe new Research Leadership Team includes Richard N. “Robin” Pierson III, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Interim Director of Research Affairs, and Professor of Surgery. Dr. Pierson has a long track record as a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded physician-scientist and leader.


“I am looking forward to working closely with our administrative and research leadership teams to sustain the recent academic accomplishments of our outstanding institution, and to determine new goals and initiatives to help us excel,” says Dr. Pierson. “This new team will focus intensely on transforming fundamental research findings into new clinical treatments that can help patients.”


Curt CivinCurt Civin, M.D., Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Pediatrics, is another NIH-funded physician-scientist and a key member of the new research team. Dr. Civin also serves as the founding director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine.


“Our longstanding emphasis on research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has already propelled the school to a leadership position among research institutions nationwide,” says Dr. Civin. “I feel certain that assembling this group of outstanding scientists and leaders will serve to make us even stronger.”


Alan ShuldinerAnother crucial member of the team is Alan R. Shuldiner, M.D., Associate Dean for Personalized & Genomic Medicine, and the John L. Whitehurst Professor of Medicine, and also a well-funded physician-scientist. Personalized medicine is widely considered to be the future of medicine, in which a patient’s genomic and other information will be used to tailor care to each patient’s individual needs. 


“Our personalized and genomic medicine program involves collaboration across innovative educational, basic and clinical research and patient care initiatives,” Dr. Shuldiner explains. “I envision a time in the not-too-distant future when all patients at the University of Maryland will have their full genome sequenced. The information will be embedded in their electronic medical record and used to individualize health care over the patient’s lifetime. The University of Maryland will be a leader in this emerging field.”


Richard EckertRichard Eckert, Ph.D., the John F. B. Weaver Professor and Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, serves as the new chair of the Research Affairs Advisory Committee, a faculty-led research committee. “The research enterprise is a critical ingredient to the success of this medical school, our students and faculty,” says Dr. Eckert.


“As a federally-funded scientist myself and a department chair, I understand firsthand the importance of a strong infrastructure for our research enterprise, and excellent teamwork and leadership to achieve our goals. I am thrilled to be part of this new team aimed at significantly advancing our research enterprise.”


George FantryThe team also will include Assistant Dean of Student Research and Education, George Fantry, M.D., who is also Associate Professor of Medicine. The Office of Student Research works to identify and place students into highly successful and productive research programs within the School of Medicine and at other institutions nationally and internationally.


“The assistance provided to our students is unique among U.S. medical schools in providing the necessary development, mentoring, and nurturing of student research interests,” says Dr. Fantry. “We also do an outstanding job of matching our students with faculty and funding opportunities. I look forward to working with the rest of this outstanding research team to advance our goals.”


Dr. Fantry’s office will also administer a new course to stimulate critical thinking, enhance intellectual acuity and inquisitiveness in medical students, in order to prepare them for the challenges of clinical practice and/or research. The change to the curriculum includes a course called Foundations of Research and Critical Thinking, which involves a series of didactic lectures and requires each medical student to execute a research project. Each student will select a mentor for their project, prepare a proposal and either complete a grant application or a laboratory/ translational research project.  The course represents an innovative approach to medical education that is in place in few medical schools nationwide.


Dudley StricklandAs Assistant Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Dudley Strickland, Ph.D., a federally-funded scientist, is also a valuable member of the new research team. Dr. Strickland, who is also Professor of Surgery, oversees the Graduate Programs 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. "The success of our research program is directly correlated to the quality of the students and postdoctoral fellows in our medical and dental schools’ graduate and postdoctoral programs," says Dr. Strickland. "These students and post-doctoral fellows are the ones on the ground, conducting the research in our laboratories. Great graduate and postdoctoral scholars help to bolster a vital research program.”


“Each of these world-class leaders, physicians and scientists strengthen our research enterprise at various points throughout the continuum,” says Dean Reece. We can no longer afford to view our academic and research enterprises as a collection of separate areas or groups. Rather, we must consider ourselves a community of collaborative researchers, working together along a continuum that includes students, trainees (residents, clinical and research post-doctoral fellows), junior faculty, experienced researchers and established physician-scientists and scientists.”


“This new approach will not only significantly enhance our research mission, it will strengthen our basic science foundation, and improve our ability to conduct clinical and translational science,” Dean Reece explains. “I am confident that this new Research Leadership Team will have a dramatic impact by identifying and implementing new initiatives to advance our research and academic enterprises.”


The new Research Leadership Team:


  • Richard N. “Robin” Pierson III, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Interim Director of Research Affairs, and Professor of Surgery 
  • Curt Civin, M.D., Associate Dean for Research, Director, Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics 
  • Alan R. Shuldiner, M.D., Associate Dean for Personalized & Genomic Medicine, and the John L. Whitehurst Professor of Medicine 
  • Richard Eckert Ph.D., the John F.B. Weaver Professor and Chair, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, who will serve as the new chair of the Research Affairs Advisory Committee (RAAC) 
  • George T. Fantry, M.D., Assistant Dean, Student Research and Education; Associate Professor of Medicine 
  • Dudley Strickland, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, and Professor of Surgery

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