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University Women’s Commission recognizes employees, awards scholarships to students

Six UToledo employees were honored for exceptional achievement and dedication to the campus community at the 33rd annual Outstanding Women’s Award ceremony.

More than 80 attended the University Women’s Commission program, which was held April 10 in the Savage Arena Joe Grogan Room.

Tricia Cullop, who just became the winningest coach in UToledo women’s basketball history with 241 victories, spoke at the luncheon.

Receiving the Dr. Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award were, from left, Angela Roach, Margaret “Peg” Traband, Linda Curtis, Dr. Amy Thompson, Dr. Julie Fischer-Kinney and Amanda Schwartz Clark.

The recipients of the Dr. Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award were:

Linda J. Curtis, secretary 2 in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. Curtis joined the University as an office assistant at the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women in 2002. She received a bachelor of arts degree and a certificate of diversity management from the University.

“Ms. Curtis is a truly exceptional champion, manager, coordinator, mentor, and an all-around excellent human being,” one nominator wrote. “In her 17th year at the University, Ms. Curtis still approaches every day and every person with a warm, friendly grace that is contagious and a living example of the best of what we want the UToledo community to be. Because I have the good fortune of having an office next to hers, I get to see firsthand how she manages it all — the multiple demanding people, the seriously heavy workload, the sheer variety and volume of the demands of her job — with grace and good cheer. She never fails to make time to connect, support, help or offer a warm gesture. Ms. Curtis also has maintained a high level of institutional involvement. She organized a support group for women that she continued to facilitate in our department, after work hours, long after she left her position at the Eberly Center for Women.”

Dr. Julie Fischer-Kinney, assistant provost for student success and retention in the Office of the Provost. She has worked at the University for 20 years, starting as an academic program coordinator in the Chemical Engineering Department. Fischer-Kinney also has served as director of student services in the College of Nursing; director of New Student Orientation Programs; associate dean and interim dean of YouCollege; and director of success coaching. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration majoring in marketing, and master of education and doctoral degrees in higher education from the University.

“I became familiar with Julie during the various Toledo Academic Advising Association meetings and noticed her passion for the advancement of student services, professional staff, and the mission of The University of Toledo,” a nominator wrote. “I have watched Julie provide her staff with valuable training, team meetings, and time to connect. In order to save the institution funding, she wrote mini-grants to be able to afford National Academic Advising Association webinars and has invited advisors across campus from various colleges to participate in these webinars. I have watched as she is investing in those around her — not just her staff, but The University of Toledo community at large through the work she is doing. I am impressed by her dedication, active engagement and forward thinking.”

Angela Roach, senior associate director of financial aid in the Office of Financial Aid. The UToledo graduate began working at her alma mater in 2007.

“I have called her numerous times about a student in need of financial assistance. She goes above and beyond searching for scholarships to help that student continue his or her education here at the University. She is a positive influence in the support of women’s issues and an advocate for students; she truly loves what she does,” one nominator wrote. Another noted, “We routinely receive calls from students in need of assistance with not just tuition, but for car repairs and medical bills and a myriad of issues that may keep students from completing their education. Angie is always two steps ahead of us by researching, based on the students’ majors and profiles, what resources are on hand for students. Her response is always, ‘Please send them directly to me.’ I can honestly say that there has not been a time that Angie has not found a way to assist a student in some way. And she does it all with a positive attitude.”

Amanda Schwartz Clark, associate director of alumni engagement in the Office of Alumni Engagement. She has worked at the University since 2008.

“Amanda engages with, supports and promotes UToledo alumni. Her efforts range widely from strategy, event planning, professional development and marketing to being the boots on the ground, strengthening University relations at alumni events around the United States,” a nominator wrote. “Besides her passion for UToledo and our alumni, Amanda is a leader and inspiration in the local running community. In 2014, she created and built an ambassador program for the Glass City Marathon. In this role, she cultivates and supports the local running community to participate in the Glass City Marathon whether as a runner, volunteer, sideline cheerleader, or a friend in the neighborhoods where the marathon course travels. As the program grew, so did her role. Now she volunteers at local races, manages the social media, works in targeted race promotions, and has a team of 19 ambassadors. Most importantly, she is a role model and an inspiration to other runners. She encourages and supports new runners, guiding them to opportunities and running classes that will help them to accomplish their own personal running goals.”

Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for faculty affairs, professor of public health, and co-director of the Center for Health and Successful Living. She joined the faculty in 2008 and has served as president of Faculty Senate. A University graduate, Thompson received a doctorate in health education and master of science and education degree in public health.

“Since joining the University, Dr. Thompson has made significant contributions in the areas of teaching, research, publications, university/college/department service and community engagement. Some of her achievements include being director of a top-ranked Public Health Doctoral Program; co-chairing the University Opioid Task Force, the University Sexual Assault Task Force and the Associate to Professor Program; and serving as a Mid-American Conference Leadership Fellow, Provost Fellow, and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Fellow,” one nominator wrote. “She also is to be commended for her exemplary work through the Center for Health and Successful Living with breast cancer survivors. She provided not only health screenings and the opportunity for advanced medical treatments, but the ability to interact and support — and receive support from — other survivors. Dr. Thompson became a mentor and friend to these women and assisted in making the University a guiding light for their recovery.”

Margaret F. “Peg” Traband, who retired as senior vice provost of academic affairs in 2018. She began her career at UToledo as an instructor in the Respiratory Care Program in 1975 at the former University Community and Technical College. The UToledo alumna served the Respiratory Care Program as director of clinical education and program director. She was promoted to professor in 1991. Traband also was an associate dean and interim dean of the College of Health Science and Human Service (now Health and Human Services) prior to joining the Office of the Provost in 2008.

“I first worked with Peg when she became the leader of the UT Learning Collaborative in 2008,” a nominator wrote. “Though this unit only lasted a few years, under her leadership, she helped to grow the study abroad program, with the eventual creation of the Center for International Studies and Programs. She also assisted in the creation of the Rathbun Cove for the Learning Collaborative. Through working with her in the Office of the Provost, I have learned a lot about higher education. She is willing to share her knowledge about state regulations and the ins and outs of curriculum and program development.”

The University Women’s Commission also presented $1,000 scholarships to four students. Receiving awards based on academic achievement, support of women’s and gender issues, and campus involvement were Diala Abou-Dahech, a senior majoring in recreational therapy; Laura Heckenmueller, a senior majoring in pharmaceutical sciences; Elizabeth Konopka, a senior majoring in history; and Rose Mansel-Pleydell, a senior majoring in art.

Four seniors received scholarships from the University Women’s Commission. They are, from left, Rose Mansel-Pleydell, Laura Heckenmueller, Elizabeth Konopka and Diala Abou-Dahech.

Dean named to lead College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Gary Pollack has been selected to lead The University of Toledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Pollack will join the University with more than 30 years of experience in higher education, most recently at Washington State University, where he has served as dean of the College of Pharmacy since 2010. His appointment will be effective Aug. 15.

Pollack

“I am excited that Dr. Pollack will be joining us here at The University of Toledo. He is a respected scholar and successful leader who brings a notable breadth of experience that will benefit the college and the University as we continue to move forward,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Prior to joining Washington State, where he also serves as a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and was the university’s vice provost for health sciences from 2011 to 2013, Pollack spent 26 years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served as UNC’s executive associate dean of the School of Pharmacy, chair and professor of the Division of Pharmaceutics, and chair and professor of the Division of Drug Delivery and Disposition (formerly Pharmaceutics).

“The UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is one of those rare pharmacy programs with a truly comprehensive mission: undergraduate, professional and graduate education, coupled with faculty-led research and patient care,” Pollack said. “Leading this vibrant community of educators, scholars and clinicians is an exciting prospect. I am very much looking forward to joining The University of Toledo and the broader Toledo community.”

His research is focused on how drugs and toxicants affect the central nervous system, making major contributions to the understanding of opioid tolerance. Pollack is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

Pollack serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Experimental Pharmacology, and from 2002 to 2006 was associate editor of the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He also is a reviewer for numerous journals in his field, and is an ad hoc reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and the Health Effects Institute.

Pollack earned his doctorate in pharmaceutics from the State University of New York at Buffalo and bachelor’s degree in chemistry/psychology from Knox College.

Bjorkman also thanked Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, interim dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, for her leadership during the transition. She will return to her role as dean of the College of Graduate Studies and vice provost for graduate affairs Aug. 15.

Health Science Campus Artist Showcase to open Feb. 18

The 14th annual Health Science Campus Artist Showcase will take place from Monday, Feb. 18, through Wednesday, April 10, on the fourth floor of Mulford Library.

This year’s exhibit features work from more than 30 artists who are students, faculty and staff in the health sciences from Health Science and Main campuses, as well as UT Medical Center.

On exhibit will be a variety of 2-D and 3-D artwork, including paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and mixed media.

An artist reception will be held Friday, Feb. 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. on the fourth floor of Mulford Library.

Dr. Paul Brand, UT associate professor emeritus of physiology and pharmacology, will speak at 4:30 p.m. at the reception. His talk is titled “Create Your Own World.”

“I paint and draw first for the simple pleasure of putting color on paper, and then to create paintings that stand out because they fuse realistic images and strong abstract designs,” Brand said.

A longstanding participant in the Health Science Campus Artist Showcase, Brand paints diverse subjects, most often landscapes, but also still-life and abstracts, using watercolors, acrylics, pastels or charcoal. He has four works in this year’s exhibit.

“I love watercolors for their luminous, fresh appearance, acrylics for their immediacy and simplicity, pastels for their intense colors and ease of application, and charcoal for the range of values and richness,” he said.

For the past two decades, paintings by the award-winning artist have been featured at several juried shows. In addition, Brand has taught art classes at the Toledo Botanical Gardens, Toledo Museum of Art and Art Supply Depo.

Like the exhibit, the reception and lecture are free and open to the public. Visitors can view the artwork during regular library hours: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

For more information, visit the University Libraries website or contact Jodi Jameson, assistant professor and nursing librarian at Mulford Library, and member of the artist showcase committee, at 419.383.5152 or jodi.jameson@utoledo.edu.

Research integrity officer named

Dr. Debra Boardley, professor in the School of Population Health, has been appointed as the research integrity officer for The University of Toledo.

Boardley has experience in research integrity issues, having served as a member of the University Research Council and as a member of both research misconduct inquiry and investigation committees.

Boardley

She is an expert in food and nutrition behavior, and is particularly concerned about local food issues, including nutrition needs of older adults, children and women.

A registered and licensed dietitian, Boardley holds a master of health science degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD from the University of South Carolina.

Boardley will take over duties from Dr. Wayne Hoss, who came back after retiring from his position as associate dean in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, to serve the University on an interim basis as the research integrity officer. Hoss will still see cases started under his watch through conclusion, with a transition of new cases to Boardley.

“I am pleased that Dr. Boardley is willing to bring her talent and energy to a demanding position at the University that is so important to maintaining our commitment to integrity in research and scholarship,” Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UT vice president for research, said.

Calzonetti thanked Hoss for his service, which included helping to draft a new research misconduct policy.

Doctoral student receives American Heart Association fellowship award

A University of Toledo graduate student has been awarded a highly competitive predoctoral fellowship grant from the American Heart Association.

Hannah Saternos is in her third year of the Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics PhD Program in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The two-year, $53,866 grant, which began Jan. 1, will take her through the completion of her doctoral degree.

Saternos, left, and AbouAlaiwi

Dr. Wissam AbouAlaiwi, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, said Saternos is an exceptionally bright and dedicated student.

“To bring $54,000 at the predoctoral level is impressive,” AbouAlaiwi said. “Usually students come to the lab, perform their research project, and leave with a decent research experience. For Hannah, it’s more like a major career step. She is a student, she’s taking care of her research — but she’s also training other students, organizing the lab, ordering supplies, and writing grants. She has a very promising future in this field.”

Saternos’ grant application scored in the top 11th percentile, with one reviewer noting she is already “arguably equal to an early to mid-stage postdoctoral fellow in scientific and networking skills.”

The American Heart Association funds 100 to 130 predoctoral fellowships annually.

Originally from the Pittsburgh area, Saternos received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Toledo. She joined AbouAlaiwi’s lab in 2014 and has since published eight research papers.

The primary focus of Saternos’ work is on cilia, hair-like antenna structures that extend from human cells, and the potential role they may play in blood pressure and polycystic kidney disease. She was the first to discover that cilia contain a certain family of receptors and is now investigating whether it might be possible to link and target the receptors as a treatment for those conditions.

AbouAlaiwi said other researchers already have clinically tested drugs that target those receptors elsewhere in the body for treating other disorders.

“If these drugs have proven to be beneficial for polycystic kidney disease or hypertension, you will save a lot of time during the clinical trial periods as you do not have to go through all the safety testing procedure again. Those steps have already been done,” he said. “I think that’s what drew the attention of the American Heart Association to fund this project because it’s a novel idea and it could have an impact on cardiovascular disease in the future.”

There is currently no effective cure or treatment for polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder that causes fluid-filled cysts to grow in the kidneys and elsewhere. Ultimately, it can lead to kidney failure.

AbouAlaiwi and Saternos each received grants from the American Heart Association in 2016 to support their work. Read the UT News story about those awards.

Saternos sees her fellowship award as validation that she’s on track for meeting her professional goal of being a research professor in cardiovascular therapeutics.

“I’m naturally curious, and I instantly fell in love with the research project and the lab. Every day I’m excited to be here,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to have my own lab, and getting this award encourages me that dream is realistic. I want to find something I’m passionate about and continue to jump down these rabbit holes. I’m never going to work a day in my life. I genuinely love this.”

Cancer Research Symposium highlights UT’s work in precision therapy

The University of Toledo’s research in immune therapy and precision molecular therapy for treating cancer was acknowledged in 2018 as an area of emerging research excellence with the potential to generate national attention.

At UT’s second Cancer Research Symposium held late last year, Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, told assembled faculty and students from across the University they must all work together to turn that potential into reality.

Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, delivered the opening remarks for the 2018 UT Cancer Research Symposium. The event, held last month, focused on the work of UT researchers whose findings are advancing precision cancer therapies.

“Our job is to make it an area of excellence,” he said. “We need to move from emerging to being excellent in cancer immune therapy and molecular precision therapy. To get there is going to require success both at the bench and at the bedside.”

The symposium, attended by more than 120 physicians, research scientists and students, was focused on UT’s efforts to create a precision cancer therapy program that will develop more targeted treatments thanks to the huge scientific advances in how we understand not just cancer, but the way it affects specific individuals.

It was only two decades ago that scientists decoded the human genome and just a decade ago that scientists first sequenced one individual’s DNA. At the time, those were extraordinarily lengthy and expensive projects. Today scientists can sequence an individual’s DNA for roughly $1,000, said Dr. F. Charles Brunicardi, director of the Cancer Program in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

“We think it will keep decreasing in cost where it will become a routine part of every one of our medical charts,” Brunicardi said. “And that’s where we’re trying to go today with a precision cancer therapy program where we’re using foundation medicine to sequence patient’s cancers and then tailor the therapy toward the targets that we find.”

The symposium featured nearly two dozen UT faculty presenters from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics who discussed topics including genomic sequencing, immunotherapy for breast cancer, novel drug discovery, and how drugs already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might be able to be repurposed for cancer treatment.

The event also featured a keynote address from Dr. Jian-Ting Zhang who provided perspectives on establishing a targeted drug discovery program. Zhang, formerly professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, will join UT as chair of the Department of Cancer Biology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences in February.

“This is the best of academia, where we bring together people from different disciplines and different approaches and we tackle important problems that matter to our community, our region and our world,” Cooper said.

More information about the symposium and the presented research can be found by visiting the UT Cancer Research Symposium website.

Submissions sought for 2019 Health Science Campus Artist Showcase

Mulford Library is seeking submissions for its 2019 Health Science Campus Artist Showcase.

The deadline to apply for consideration to be included in the annual event is 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11.

The library is accepting submissions from UT faculty, staff and students in the health sciences — nursing, medicine, pharmacy and the health professions — as well as UT Medical Center employees.

To be considered for the show, digital images of artwork can be sent to hscartshow@utoledo.edu, along with a submission form that can be found with guidelines on University Libraries’ website.

Artists will be notified if their submitted pieces have been accepted no later than Wednesday, Jan. 16, and will receive instructions for bringing in their artwork to the library for the showcase.

The showcase will be on display from Feb. 18 through April 10 on the fourth floor of Mulford Library. In the past, artwork included photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, jewelry making, quilting, multimedia, graphics, wood carving and more.

An opening reception featuring a talk by Dr. Paul H. Brand, associate professor emeritus of physiology and pharmacology, and accomplished artist, will be held Friday, Feb. 22, at 4 p.m. in Mulford Library.

Questions about the showcase can be directed to Jodi Jameson, assistant professor and nursing librarian at Mulford Library, who is a member of the artist showcase committee, at 419.383.5152 or jodi.jameson@utoledo.edu.

National science leader and Toledo native to deliver UT commencement address Dec. 15

The head of the nation’s oldest and one of its most prestigious laboratories will return home, as Toledo native Michael Witherell is set to deliver the address during The University of Toledo’s undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 15.

Witherell, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in Berkeley, Calif., will address 1,474 candidates for degrees, including 1,437 bachelor’s and 37 associate’s candidates. The event will take place at 11:30 a.m. in Savage Arena on Main Campus.

Witherell

UT’s graduate commencement ceremony is scheduled at 8 a.m. in Savage Arena and will commemorate 641 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates. Md Kamal Hossain, emerging cancer researcher and candidate for a doctoral degree at the University, will be the speaker.

Both ceremonies are open to the public and can be viewed live on the UT Views website.

Witherell, a distinguished physicist, educator and science leader, developed the foundation for his future at Toledo’s St. Francis de Sales High School. Salutatorian at age 15, he earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in experimental physics from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After a distinguished career as a university professor performing research in particle physics, he devoted himself to leading large research institutions.

In 2016, Witherell was named director of Berkeley Lab, the oldest of the 17 labs in the
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories systems. Berkeley Lab is a global leader in fundamental and applied scientific research in physical, biological, energy, computing and environmental sciences. The lab’s employees have earned 13 Nobel Prizes and played a role in the discovery of 16 elements on the periodic table, among its honors. The lab is managed for the DOE by the University of California.

“Our mission at Berkeley Lab is solving the nation’s most challenging problems through great scientific and technological discoveries. I believe that the national assets in addressing these problems include public universities and the students whom they are educating,” Witherell said.

Before joining Berkeley Lab, Witherell spent six years as director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. He was vice chancellor for research at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he also held a presidential chair in the Physics Department.

His primary research interest is in studying the nature of dark matter. He was a contributor to the LUX experiment, which in 2016 published the most sensitive search for interactions of dark matter particles with normal matter. He is now part of an international research team that is building a successor to LUX, known as LZ, which will be three orders of magnitude more sensitive. Data collection is expected to start in 2020.

Witherell is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He chairs the Board of Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies and serves on the National Academies’ Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy.

“As a nationally recognized, public research university, The University of Toledo is pleased to have Dr. Witherell as our fall commencement speaker. Research not only helps us to discover new knowledge that advances all areas of study, but also instills critical thinking skills that our students can use to approach problems systematically and come up with solutions that improve everyday life,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “We look forward to Dr. Witherell sharing his insights with our graduates, especially since he grew up in Toledo and has since made tremendous contributions through research.”

Witherell’s personal success can be traced back to the Glass City, as well. He and his wife, Elizabeth Hall Witherell, head of the Princeton Edition of Henry Thoreau’s writings, grew up in the same west Toledo neighborhood and were high school sweethearts. They have a daughter, Lily.

“The foundation for my career and life was my extended family in Toledo,” Witherell said. “Their support and the value they put on education and public service were central to my personal and professional development.”

Hossain

Hossain, the graduate ceremony speaker, is a native of Dhaka, Bangladesh, who came to UT as an industrial pharmacist with a passion to develop innovative medicines.

“I’ve always been interested in studying health-related fields due to the suffering of people in my homeland from different types of disease,” Hossain said. “My focus is to develop a specific targeting approach for a more effective cancer vaccine. My research examined the utilization of a natural antibody already present in human serum that makes the vaccine more convenient to target tumor cells.”

He is a candidate for a doctor of philosophy degree in medicinal chemistry in UT’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

UT’s fall commencement ceremonies will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies; Health and Human Services; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

The College of Law will host its commencement ceremony Sunday, May 5, at 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Later that week — Friday, May 10, at
4 p.m. — the College of Medicine and Life Sciences will hold its commencement ceremony in Savage Arena.

For more information, visit the UT commencement website.

UT scientist studies cannabis to control parasites

Anthropologists have observed that the members of a tribe in Africa’s Congo Basin who regularly smoke marijuana have far fewer intestinal parasites than tribe members who don’t use cannabis.

It was a curious finding that suggested an interesting, if unintentional, example of medical marijuana.

Komuniecki

Now a University of Toledo researcher believes he knows why — and potentially how to harness that knowledge to develop new treatments that could rid humans and livestock of roundworms without relying on traditional anthelmintic drugs.

“Studying how nematodes reacted to cannabis gave us a window into a potential new mode of action,” said Dr. Richard Komuniecki, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at The University of Toledo. “Cannabis really limits locomotion in these animals, and they exhibit a dazed and confused behavior. They can’t decide whether to move forward or backward, which is a druggable phenotype.”

Most anti-parasitic drugs currently on the market to treat intestinal parasites work by causing paralysis in the worms, allowing the body to expel them. It is possible the limited locomotion Komuniecki’s work has observed could be enough to release the worm from the host.

While additional animal testing is needed to confirm the theory, the early findings from Komuniecki and his graduate student researchers, Wenjin Law and Mitchell Oakes, are significant because of their potential to add a new treatment in an area that hasn’t seen much recent development.

“In contrast to things like bacteria where we can develop antibiotics, these animals are so closely related to humans that usually compounds that kill nematodes also kill humans,” Komuniecki said. “Anthelmintic drug discovery has been very slow for that reason. Also, resistance is beginning to arise in a lot of the compounds on the market today.”

For his initial research, Komuniecki introduced cannabinoids to a non-parasitic nematode, or roundworm, known as Caenorhabditis elegans. The tiny worms, which have long been used in scientific research, stopped feeding and exhibited erratic motor function once they were exposed to the compounds.

After studying the worm’s reaction, UT researchers determined they could produce the same reaction by targeting the worms’ serotonin receptors. Komuniecki has worked with Dr. Paul Erhardt, Distinguished University Professor and director of UT’s Center for Drug Design and Development, to identify compounds that could be used as treatment.

“The cannabis work allowed us to identify these receptors as novel drug targets,” Komuniecki said.

More than 2 billion people worldwide are affected by parasites, while the global agricultural industry loses billions of dollars a year to parasitic infections.

Komuniecki’s work on parasitic worms has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 35 years.

UT Leadership Institute 2018-19 class announced

Last year, 21 faculty from across the University participated in the second year of the UT Leadership Institute.

The program was launched in fall 2016 by UT President Sharon L. Gaber and Provost Andrew Hsu to provide professional development to help prepare future academic leaders.

“We started this program to help our fantastic faculty members develop into future academic leaders,” Gaber said. “We believe the UT Leadership Institute accelerates success in higher education administration.”

“For faculty who are interested in exploring leadership opportunities in higher education administration, participation in the UT Leadership Institute is an excellent opportunity,” Hsu said. “Our third cohort of faculty represents faculty from eight colleges and University Libraries. I look forward to the many contributions they will make as emerging leaders of the University.”

Following a competitive application process, a third cohort of 22 faculty members was selected to participate in this year’s UT Leadership Institute. This year’s participants are:

• Dr. Ammon Allred, Philosophy, College of Arts and Letters;

• Dr. Jillian Bornak, Physics, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics;

• Dr. Lucinda Bouillon, School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Services, College of Health and Human Services;

• Dr. Maria Coleman, Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering;

• Dr. Joan Duggan, Medicine, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Kevin Egan, Economics, College of Arts and Letters;

• Dr. Michael Ellis, Medicine, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Rodney Gabel, School of Intervention and Wellness, College of Health and Human Services;

• Dr. David Giovannucci, Neurosciences, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Lynn Hamer, Foundations of Education, Judith Herb College of Education;

• Dr. Dana Hollie, Accounting, College of Business and Innovation;

• Dr. A. Champa Jayasuriya, Orthopedic Surgery, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. David Kennedy, Medicine, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Lisa Kovach, Foundations of Education, Judith Herb College of Education;

• Sarah Long, School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Health and Human Services;

• Julia Martin, University Libraries;

• Amy O’Donnell, Management, College of Business and Innovation;

• Dr. Jorge Ortiz, Surgery, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Youssef Sari, Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences;

• Dr. Rebecca Schneider, Curriculum and Instruction, Judith Herb College of Education;

• Dr. Qin Shao, Mathematics, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and

• Dr. Puneet Sindhwani, Urology, College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

The first meeting of this year’s UT Leadership Institute cohort was held Oct. 5 and will be followed by monthly meetings throughout the academic year.

Participants will discuss various aspects of leadership in higher education and engage in discussions with members of the UT leadership team and invited speakers, with presentations focusing on leadership styles, critical issues facing administrators, funding, and diversity and inclusion.

President Sharon L. Gaber, second row standing at right, posed for a photo with most of the members of the 2018-19 class of the UT Leadership Institute during last month.