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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Announce Faculty, Staff Achievements and New Research Funding

PITTSBURGH, December 31, 2008 — The faculty, staff and students of the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences often are recognized by academic and scientific societies and other prestigious organizations for their significant achievements and exceptional leadership. Among those whose work has been acknowledged recently with awards and accolades are the following:

  • Ian McGowan, M.D., Ph.D., FRCP, professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition and the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, has been named chair of the Food and Drug Administration’s Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee. The committee reviews and evaluates data on the safety and efficacy of marketed and investigational drugs for use in treating AIDS, HIV-related illnesses and other viral, fungal and mycobacterial infections. Dr. McGowan also is co-principal investigator of the University of Pittsburgh-based Microbicide Trials Network.
  • UPMC Stroke Institute has received the American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Silver Performance Achievement Award. The award recognizes the commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations.
  • Andrew B. Peitzman, M.D., Mark M. Ravitch professor and vice chairman, and chief of general surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, department of surgery, recently was elected President-elect of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST), the premier academic trauma surgery organization in the United States. The Association publishes the Journal of Trauma and holds annual scientific meetings designed to exchange knowledge pertaining to current research practice and training in the surgery of trauma and design research studies to investigate new methods of preventing, correcting and treating traumatic injuries.
  • Kenneth McGaffin, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Cardiovascular Institute, has received the American Heart Association’s James A. Shaver, M.D., Research Award. The award is presented to the top-scoring project by a physician-scientist in western Pennsylvania.
  • UPMC Presbyterian received a grant from the Ladies Hospital Aid Society to bring the Good Grief Program to health care workers at the hospital. The program provides education and support to health care staff teaching them how to cope with the loss of a patient.
  • Mary Beth Happ, Ph.D., R.N., was selected as an American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Circle of Excellence Award recipient. The award recognizes and showcases excellent outcomes by individuals in the care of acutely and critically ill patients and their families.
  • Willa Doswell, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., received a $55,277 award from the Staunton Farm Foundation for “Project Uplift: Using Parish Nurses to Reduce Mental and Behavioral Health Risk in Urban Communities.” The Staunton Farm Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of people who live with mental illness. The Foundation works to enhance mental health treatment and support by advancing best practices through grant making to non-profit organizations in 10 southwestern Pennsylvania counties.
  • Yvette Conley, Ph.D., and Jan Dorman, Ph.D., received the President’s Award at the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG) conference in November. ISONG is a global nursing specialty organization dedicated to fostering the scientific and professional growth of nurses in human genetics and genomics worldwide. This is the first ISONG award given to a non-nurse. 

Innovative research conducted by faculty of the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences contributes to a better understanding of the causes and origins of disease and aids in the development of more effective treatment approaches. Government and private-sector funding is critical to this process of scientific inquiry. The following projects recently have been awarded grants that will enable the continuation of existing projects or the pursuit of new areas of investigation:

  • Song Li, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, has received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to pursue his research, “Nonviral Gene Therapy for Lung Injury.” The primary focus of the project is to develop a non-toxic polymer-based system to deliver mini-urokinase plasminogen activator transgene directly to lung cells.
  • Randall B. Smith, Ph.D., senior associate dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, received an unrestricted education grant in the amount of $293,350 from Novo Nordisk. Dr. Smith and the DM Educate Team will use the grant for updates and enhancements to both the school/student site and the continuing education site for DM Educate, a comprehensive diabetes management continuing education course.
  • David A. Lewis, M.D., professor of neuroscience and psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and UPMC Endowed Professor of Translational Neuroscience, was selected by NARSAD, the world’s leading charity dedicated to funding research on psychiatric disorders, to receive its prestigious Distinguished Investigator Award. Dr. Lewis was one of only 11 scientists so honored. He received a one-year grant of $100,000 to advance his research on schizophrenia.
  • The research team consisting of University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy faculty/staff Margie E. Snyder, PharmD (Principal Investigator), Karen Pater, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, Janice Pringle, Ph.D., Randall Smith, Ph.D., and Cheri Hill, along with Coleen Kayden, RPh, Rik Lennox, Ph.D., and Brad Langford, B. Sc. (Pharm) have received a grant from the Community Pharmacy Foundation. This grant will support their research, “Who is at Risk?: Identifying Patients in Need of Medication Therapy Management” This research is being conducted to develop and validate a brief, self-administered questionnaire that will identify patients at risk for medication related problems.

The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences include the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health. The schools serve as the academic partner to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Together, their combined mission is to train tomorrow’s health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care. Since 1997, Pitt and its affiliated university faculty have ranked among the top 10 educational institutions in grant support from the National Institutes of Health.

For additional information about the Schools of the Health Sciences, please visit

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