February 7, 2008

WORCESTER, MA— University of Massachusetts Medical School professor Stephen J. Doxsey, PhD, was honored yesterday with the 2007 University of Massachusetts President’s Public Service Award for his efforts as co-founder of the UMass Laboratories for Worcester Area High Schools program, which brings high school students to the Medical School campus for hands-on research experiences in state-of-the-art labs, while providing opportunities for faculty to encourage high school students to consider careers in the sciences. The coveted award, presented at a festive noontime ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Club in Boston, is presented annually by the University of Massachusetts President’s Office to faculty from each of the UMass campuses who provide exemplary public service to the Commonwealth.

The award winners possess “a passion for their professional fields and a commitment to their students and colleagues, as well as an exemplary commitment to community engagement and public service,” said UMass President Jack M. Wilson.

“ ‘Public service’ isn’t just written in the founding philosophy of the medical school, it’s ingrained in the daily activity of the faculty and staff,” said Michael F. Collins, MD, interim Chancellor of UMMS. “Dr. Doxsey and so many of his medical school colleagues come to work each day with an eye towards how they, as scientists and  academics, can contribute to the community in meaningful and lasting ways.”

Doxsey, a professor of molecular medicine, biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and cell biology and an accomplished leader in the study of cell division, launched the UMass Laboratories for Worcester Area High Schools program seven years ago with assistance from the Department of Science administrators from Worcester’s North High School. The program exposes high school students to science in the context of a working academic research lab; participating UMMS faculty members teach one lab in their area of expertise during the year-long course, with students making four visits to UMMS.

“It is an honor to receive the President’s Public Service Award for our work with high school students,” said Doxsey. “The beauty of this program is that it is a win-win for both Medical School faculty and high school students. Faculty are overwhelmingly excited and dedicated to enriching the education, development and scientific experiences of nascent scientists, and the students are provided with a unique opportunity to work in active laboratories of world class scientists.  Many participating faculty recall similar experiences with professionals or outstanding teachers as pivotal events in their own decision to pursue a career in science.”

A tremendous success with faculty and North High students and teachers, UMass Laboratories was expanded to other Worcester high schools in 2006. The expansion, which provides further opportunities for additional faculty to influence young, would-be scientists, added 16 junior and senior faculty as well as more than 30 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to the program’s original faculty cohort of Doxsey, David Lambright, PhD, and Craig Peterson, PhD, professors of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology; and Tony Ip, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine, biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and cell biology.

Doxsey, who received his undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut and his PhD in cell biology from Yale University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California at San Francisco before coming to UMMS in 1993, is a fitting role model for high school students interested in pursuing science careers. His lab is at the forefront of research, one focus being the molecular mechanisms that induce normal cells to become cancerous. This work has been funded by numerous sources, including the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute. In July Doxsey was awarded a prestigious Keck Medical Research Grant by the W.M. Keck Foundation, which supports the work of leading researchers to lay the groundwork for breakthrough discoveries. The Keck Medical Research Grant seeks interdisciplinary collaborations among established investigators with the potential to advance the frontiers of medicine.

In addition to an awards luncheon held yesterday, the President’s Public Service Awards will include an exhibit of photos and information about the award recipients and their work. The exhibit will be displayed at the Massachusetts State House in Doric Hall, February 19 through 29.

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $176 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The work of UMMS researcher Craig Mello, PhD, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and has spawned a new and promising field of research, the global impact of which may prove astounding. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit

Contact: Alison Duffy