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Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Biologist Receives Prestigious Fellowship Award

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 4, 2009 – John F. Alcorn, Ph.D., assistant professor, Division of Pulmonology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and a biologist in the John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, has been selected as one of ten 2009 recipients of the prestigious Parker B. Francis Fellowship, awarded each year to scientists conducting pulmonology research.

Dr. Alcorn’s research focuses on uncovering the molecular pathway of pneumonia infections and defining novel therapeutic targets in the lung. His studies will address the role of helper T cells and their downstream signaling pathways involved in host defense, all of which will promote the resolution of pneumonia.

“The lung is exposed to many external pathogens, including bacteria, with every breath,” Dr. Alcorn said, “and despite a vast amount of research, we still do not fully understand the disease mechanisms of pneumonia.”

Dr. Alcorn, a native of Brookville, Pa., completed his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees at Youngstown State University. He earned a doctorate in cell and molecular biology from Duke University in 2003 and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Vermont.

Renowned for its outstanding clinical services, research programs and medical education, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has helped establish the standards of excellence in pediatric care. From ambulatory care to transplantation and cardiac care, talented and committed pediatric experts care for infants, children and adolescents who make more than 500,000 visits to Children’s and its many neighborhood locations each year.

Children’s also has been named consistently to several elite lists of pediatric health care facilities, including ranking eighth among children’s hospitals (FY 2006) in funding provided by the National Institutes of Health, and is named one of the top pediatric hospitals in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.

The Parker B. Francis Fellowship program enables researchers to devote a major part of their professional careers to research related to pulmonary disease and lung biology. The three-year fellowship provides $156,000 to each recipient in support of his or her research.

In 1951, Parker B. Francis, founder of the Puritan-Bennett Company, established a foundation bearing his name in Kansas City, Mo. Since Puritan-Bennett was a leading manufacturer of respiratory equipment and medical gases, the primary emphasis of the foundation was related to pulmonary research. Today, the Francis Family Foundation remains the sole benefactor of the Parker B. Francis Fellowship Program, in addition to supporting educational and cultural programs geographically located within the Greater Kansas City area. Since 1976, the foundation has contributed more than $50 million to the fellowship program in support of more than 750 fellows.

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