October 20, 2006Phil Zamore, PhD, and Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare 

WORCESTER, Mass.-The University of Massachusetts Medical School celebrated excellence in research, education and public service at Convocation on Friday, October 20.  The event also marked the formal investiture of Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, as the Gretchen Stone Cook Chair in Biomedical Sciences. The first formal academic ceremony of the scholastic year, Convocation offered the Medical School community the opportunity to publicly honor other faculty and students who have recently garnered exceptional accolades. 

Established by bequest upon the death of Gretchen Stone Cook, a lively intellectual who realized the promise of research as a long-time donor to the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research, the Gretchen Stone Cook Chair in Biomedical Sciences is intended "to be held by an outstanding faculty member…appointed by the Chancellor/Dean of the Medical School." An international figure in the science of RNA interference, or RNAi, Dr. Zamore was selected for his intellectual curiosity and scientific acumen. His experiments have shed light on how RNAi-the ability of double-stranded RNA to "silence" targeted genes when injected into cells-works at the molecular level, specifically identifying that it was the small double-stranded RNA that precisely guided the silencing reaction of the process. Zamore, a resident of Northborough, now focuses his investigations on the machinery of RNAi, in hopes of applying this phenomenon to mammalian cells and, eventually, human disease. 

In honor of Zamore's investment, Stephen C. Harrison, PhD, was the keynote speaker. An Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Harrison was a scientific mentor to Zamore during his undergraduate education at Harvard. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society and a foreign member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. 

Harrison has made important contributions to structural biology, most notably by determining and analyzing the structures of viruses and viral proteins. The initiator of high-resolution virus crystallography, he has moved from his early work on plant viruses to the study of more complex human pathogens, including human papillomavirus, dengue virus and components of HIV. 

In addition to the investiture of Zamore, UMMS Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare lauded a number of faculty and staff who have been recognized by both the Medical School and external organizations for excellence in a range of areas. Those honored included: 

  • Melissa A. Fischer, MD, MEd, Assistant Professor of Medicine, for her selection as the first recipient of the Sarah Stone Endowed Fellowship in Medical Education 
  • H. Maurice Goodman, PhD, Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Physiology, upon his retirement after more than 30 years of service to the University of Massachusetts Medical School 
  • April Inniss, School of Medicine Class of 2009, for her receipt of the Minority Scholars Award from the American Medical Association Foundation 
  • Elaine R. Martin, DA, Director, Library Services, for her selection as a recipient of the University of Massachusetts President's Public Service Award 
  • Craig C. Mello, PhD, the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, for his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2006 
  • Michele P. Pugnaire, MD, Associate Professor and Vice Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, for her selection as a Fellow of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women at the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia 
  • Paulette Seymour, PhD, Professor, for her appointment as Dean of the Graduate School of Nursing 
  • Heather Smith, School of Medicine Class of 2007, for her receipt of the Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship from the American Medical Association Foundation 
  • Carole C. Upshur, EdD, Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical & Population Health Research, for her appointment as the University of Massachusetts Roy J. Zuckerburg Endowed Leadership Chair for the academic year 2006-2007 


The University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of five campuses of the University system and one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country.  It encompasses the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Graduate School of Nursing, a thriving research enterprise and an innovative public service initiative called Commonwealth Medicine. The mission of UMass Medical School is to serve the people of the Commonwealth through national distinction in health sciences education, research and public service.