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Inaugural Faculty Scholar Award recipients announced

Funds help junior faculty balance academic and research demands with family life

By Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

February 24, 2011

The Office of Faculty Affairs has announced the first-ever recipients of the Faculty Scholar Award program, designed to aid junior faculty in pursuing their research and scholarly activities while juggling family responsibilities. Nancy Byatt, DO, assistant professor of psychiatry; Susanne Muehlschlegel, MD, assistant professor of neurology, anesthesiology and surgery; and Jill Zitzewitz, PhD, research associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, will each receive funding for support personnel, services, supplies or “buy outs” of clinical time to allow them to focus more on their academic work. 

“These scholars are very deserving faculty members,” said Luanne Thorndyke, MD, vice provost for faculty affairs. “We are delighted to support their work and look forward to seeing the results of their research.” 

Dr. Byatt will further her research project, “Prenatal Mental Illness: How can barriers to treatment be overcome?”; Dr. Muehlschlegel will hire an assistant for her project “Intravenous Dantrolene for the Treatment and Prevention of Cerebral Vasospasm after Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Phase II Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial”; and Dr. Zitzewitz will put the resources toward understanding the molecular mechanism of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the quest for treatments. 

Research on faculty advancement and retention has shown that heavy responsibilities for family care can impede the progress of talented junior faculty in meeting career goals. Rather than pay for child care or other family support services, the funding is an investment in the research and scholarship of the applicant and can only be used for professional expenses that would be allowed by an external funding agency, such as the National Institutes of Health. 

“We hope that these awards will enable junior faculty to advance their research, resulting in academic achievements that will allow them to advance to senior levels, surmounting obstacles that might otherwise inhibit their academic productivity and advancement,” said Dr. Thorndyke. “In particular, this award program is intended to help diversify the faculty and increase representation of women at the highest faculty ranks.” 

The Faculty Scholar Award was created by the UMMS Women’s Faculty Committee and the Women’s Leadership Work Group, and is funded jointly by UMMS, UMass Memorial Health Care and the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Another round of nominations will be due on July 15, 2011. 

Related links 

Faculty Scholar Award to help junior faculty juggle family responsibilities 
Office of Faculty Affairs