UMMS Announces Six Endowed Professorships

June 6, 2001

WORCESTER, Mass.-The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) invested four faculty members into six newly endowed professorships and appointed recipients to two existing named professorships at an academic ceremony held Saturday, June 2 to honor both the appointed faculty members and the naming donors.

Endowed professorships increase UMMS' ability to attract individuals distinguished in their fields and help it to retain the very best members of the faculty. Named professorships also provide an opportunity for private donors to enrich specific areas of academic excellence. UMMS currently has 22 endowed positions, of which 17 have been established in just the past three years through the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research and the UMass Memorial Foundation.

The Worcester Foundation is a nonprofit organization devoted to the support of research and the education and training of tomorrow's scientists at the Medical School. Founded in 1944 as an independent basic biomedical research institute, with research accomplishments that include the birth control pill and the work that led to in vitro fertilization, the Worcester Foundation merged with UMMS in 1997. The UMass Memorial Foundation, established in May 1998, is the charitable partnership created through a merger of the former University of Massachusetts Medical Center Foundation and the Memorial Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to support both the academic and research enterprises of UMMS and the clinical initiatives of UMass Memorial Health Care.

The four professorships established this year and awarded at the ceremony were: the Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Gastrointestinal Cancer, awarded to Timothy C. Wang, MD; the Barbara Helen Smith Chair in Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, awarded to Judith K. Ockene, PhD; the Higgins Family Professorship in Neuroscience, awarded to Steven M. Reppert, MD; and the David J. and Barbara D. Milliken Professorship in Preventive Cardiology, awarded to Ira S. Ockene, MD. Two additional professorships have not yet been awarded: the Lambi and Sarah Adams Chair in Genetic Research and the Barbara and Nathan Greenberg Chair in Biomedical Research

New recipients were also named to two existing professorships: the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professorship in Medical Education, awarded to Aaron Lazare, MD; and the Richard M. Haidack Professorship in Medicine awarded to Robert W. Finberg, MD.

Following are short biographies of the award recipients, as well as information on the naming donors.

Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Gastrointestinal Cancer

Before his death in September 1997, H. Arthur Smith was a generous donor to the Worcester Foundation, designating an annual gift for cancer research because the disease had impacted him and many members of his family. He created the H. Arthur Smith Charitable Foundation, funded upon his death, to continue his legacy of charitable giving to the Worcester community. The Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Gastrointestinal Cancer was established in honor of Mr. Smith' s beloved only sister, the late Gladys Smith Martin, and her courageous battle with cancer.

Professor of Medicine Timothy C. Wang, MD, came to the UMMS in 2000 from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was an associate professor of medicine and associate division chief for the Gastrointestinal Unit. He is internationally recognized for his research, particularly his study of the hormone gastrin and its role in the development of stomach and colon cancer. Upon completion of the Medical School' s new research laboratory building this fall, Dr. Wang plans to double the number of gastroenterology researchers to be housed there over the next five years. With the approval of a new endoscopy unit and clinic space, he also expects to expand the number of clinicians and clinical researchers in the division.

Barbara Helen Smith Chair in Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

In recognition of H. Arthur Smith' s long-standing interest in cancer research, the trustees of his Foundation established the Barbara Helen Smith Chair in Preventive and Behavioral Medicine in honor of Mr. Smith' s cousin, who worked as a nurse, administrator and consultant with the Norton Company, where she was active in the coordination of smoking cessation seminars and other employee wellness programs.

Judith K. Ockene, PhD, is a professor of medicine and director of the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine within the Department of Medicine at UMMS. A behavioral medicine psychologist and scientist, her primary research interests are in the prevention of illness and disability, as well as the promotion of health and quality of life for individuals and communities. As principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health Women' s Health Initiative, Dr. Ockene has recently focused her research on women's health and the factors that affect morbidity, mortality and quality of life in older women.

Higgins Family Professorship in Neuroscience

Through the Worcester Foundation, the Higgins Family of Worcester established the Higgins Family Professorship in Neuroscience. The chair, the first endowment for the newly established Department of Neurobiology, is being funded by both the Higgins Charitable Remainder Unitrust, established by Alice C. and Milton P. Higgins II, and the Higgins Family Fund, a permanent endowment fund established by the Higgins Family in 1991. A leading expert on biological rythmns, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology Steven M. Reppert, MD, led scientists worldwide to a deeper understanding of how human biological clocks work. His identification of a key regulatory receptor for the brain chemical melatonin, and his development of an animal model to understand how these regulatory receptors work, have significant potential to further the understanding of the link between biological rhythms and neurological development.

David J. and Barbara D. Milliken Professorship in Preventive Cardiology

In recognition of the continuing standard of high quality care provided by UMass Memorial Health Care and the Medical School, Barbara D. Milliken of Worcester established a fund in her late husband's memory to support the exemplary research of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Along with additional donors, Mrs. Milliken intended the fund to finance a professorship to continue to conduct innovative research into the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Ira S. Ockene, MD, is a professor of medicine at UMMS and an adjunct professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology within UMass Amherst's School of Public Health and Health Sciences. A graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Ockene is a widely published researcher on cholesterol and heart disease, who is keenly interested in the prevention of this disease in patients with known risk factors and a tireless champion of facilitating behavioral changes in patients, including nutritional intervention.

Lambi and Sarah Adams Chair in Genetic Research

Because of the commitment of Lambi Adams, MD, to the eradication of disease through research, Sarah Adams established the Lambi and Sarah Adams Chair in Genetic Research to honor her late husband and preserve the legacy of a man who practiced medicine for 50 years, until his death in 1993. The establishment of this endowment will encourage the recruitment to the Medical School of a world-class scientist in the field of genetics.

Barbara and Nathan Greenberg Chair in Biomedical Research

Through the Worcester Foundation, Barbara and Nathan Greenberg of Worcester have established the Barbara and Nathan Greenberg Chair in Biomedical Research at UMMS. The Greenbergs have generously allowed for flexibility with the endowment, establishing the chair to assist in the recruitment of a research investigator of the highest caliber in a field of the Medical School' s choice.

Barbara Greenberg currently serves as a trustee of the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research and is the former chair and owner of Winter Hill Frozen Foods. She previously served for many years on the management board of UMass Hospital. Nathan Greenberg is a former trustee of the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research and is a partner in the accounting firm of Greenberg, Rosenblatt, Kull & Bitsoli, PC.

The Celia and Isaac Haidak Professorship in Medical Education

Richard M. Haidack (who added a 'c' to the family name), owner of a successful meat packing business, provided in his will for two named professorships at the UMMS, including one in honor of his immigrant parents, Celia and Isaac Haidak.

UMMS Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare, is nationally renowned for his research on the importance of understanding the patient's perspective on clinical outcomes and applying a negotiating paradigm to the doctor-patient relationship. In 1998, he was named a principal investigator by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation for the four-year, multi-million dollar Macy Initiative in Health Communication. In conjunction with investigators from New York University and Case Western Reserve schools of medicine, Dr. Lazare has developed a standardized, competency-based communication curriculum for undergraduate medical education and cultivated faculty who will pursue a distinct career path in health communication.

Richard M. Haidack Professorship in Medicine

In addition to the former professorship, Richard M. Haidack added a third bequest for an endowed professorship in medicine that bears his name. Professor and Chair of Medicine Robert W. Finberg, MD, came to UMMS in 1999 from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he was a professor of medicine and chief of the Infectious Disease Program in the Department of Adult Oncology. In addition to his extensive experience as a clinician and scholar, Dr. Finberg is an investigator whose research focuses on three principal areas of cell biology: the mechanism by which viruses infect cells; how certain proteins on the surface of the body's cells stimulate cell growth; and the mechanisms involved in the development of protective immunity. This research involves work with a range of infectious diseases that can cause cancer in humans, such as papilloma, herpes and hepatitis viruses, and bacteria such as H. pylori, which has recently been implicated in the development of ulcers and stomach cancer.