2017 Investiture Ceremony honors nine named professors and their benefactors

By Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

September 14, 2017
  • Neil Aronin (left) joins Chancellor Collins as he acknowledges Prentiss and Polly Higgins, who invested Aronin as the Higgins Family Professor of Neuroscience.
  • Dr. Aronin addresses the audience.
  • Chancellor Collins recognizes Jan Cellucci for her support of the Governor Paul Cellucci Chair in Neuroscience Research, held by Fen-Biao Gao (left).
  • Noor Semaan presents Mark Johnson with the investiture medal for the Maroun Semaan Chair in Neurosurgery.
  • Mark Johnson thanks the Semaan family and the UMMS community.
  • Marian Walhout joins Chancellor Collins as he presents a medal to Noor Semaan in honor of her late father, Maroun Semaan. Dr. Walhout holds The Maroun Semaan Chair in Biomedical Research.
  • Dr. Walhout addresses the audience.
  • Members of the laboratories of Job Dekker and Marian Walhout came prepared for Investiture with supplies appropriate for the occasion.
  • Job Dekker (left) and Chancellor Collins recognize Sam and Joseph Byrne for endowing the Joseph J. Byrne Chair in Biomedical Research.
  • Job Dekker and Marian Walhout share a moment after the Investiture Ceremony.
  • Tiffany Moore Simas, MD, MPH, presents Heather Forkey with the medal for the Joy McCann Professor for Women in Medicine.
  • Michael J. Thompson is invested by Collins as the inaugural recipient of The Herman G. Berkman Chair in Diabetes Care Innovation.
  • Brian Silver is congratulated by Robert H. Brown Jr. as Dr. Silver is invested as the inaugural recipient of The Endowed Chair in Neuroscience Research.
  • Demetrius Litwin, MD, invests Justin Maykel as The Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Oncology.

At the 2017 Investiture Ceremony following Convocation on Wednesday, Sept. 13, nine distinguished faculty members were officially invested into named professorships, bringing the total number of endowed chairs at UMass Medical School to 48. In addition to honoring faculty members, the ceremony presented an opportunity to thank the generous donors who make the essential positions a reality.

“We are fortunate to have the support of so many philanthropic leaders who believe in our mission and limitless potential to improve the health and well-being of the commonwealth, the nation and the global community,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins.

In opening the Investiture ceremony, Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, called the establishment of endowed chairs more relevant and meaningful than ever.

“Today’s ceremony takes place against a backdrop of an increasingly intense competition among medical schools, research institutions and hospitals to attract and retain the best and brightest academic talent,” Dean Flotte said. “Perhaps the most effective and coveted resource we can direct to our top talent is an endowed chair.”

“In order to establish an endowed chair, a benefactor makes a strategic and substantial gift that binds the donor and the institution together for perpetuity. Each year, Investiture captures the profoundly important role this special group of benefactors plays in contributing to the medical school’s upward growth trajectory,” Flotte said.

The following professors were invested at the 2017 ceremony:

Neil Aronin, MD, professor of medicine, co-director of the Neurotherapeutics Institute, and chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at UMass Memorial Medical Center, was invested as The Higgins Family Professor of Neuroscience.

Job Dekker, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and co-director of the Program in Systems Biology, was invested as the inaugural holder of the Joseph J. Byrne Chair in Biomedical Research.

Heather C. Forkey, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, director of the Foster Children Evaluation Service (FaCES), and chief of the Division of Child Protection for the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, was invested as the Joy McCann Professor for Women in Medicine.

Fen-Biao Gao, PhD, professor of neurology, was invested as the inaugural holder of The Governor Paul Cellucci Chair in Neuroscience Research.

Mark D. Johnson, MD, PhD, founding chair and professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, was invested as the inaugural holder of The Maroun Semaan Chair in Neurosurgery.

Justin Maykel, MD, associate professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Colorectal surgery at UMass Memorial Medical Center, was invested as The Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Oncology.

Brian Silver, MD, vice chair and professor of neurology, was invested as the inaugural holder of the Endowed Chair in Neuroscience Research.

Michael J. Thompson, MD, clinical professor of medicine and chief of adult diabetes clinical research, was invested as the inaugural holder of The Herman G. Berkman Chair in Diabetes Care Innovation.

Marian Walhout, PhD, professor of molecular medicine and co-director of the Program in Systems Biology, was invested as the inaugural holder of The Maroun Semaan Chair in Biomedical Research.

For additional information about the endowed chairs at UMass Medical School, visit the Office of Advancement website

Video of Investiture Ceremony

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
Convocation 2017: Chancellor Collins recognizes 'smart minds, great science and genuine collegiality' at UMMS
UMass Medical School faculty appointed to endowed chairs
Heather Forkey named Joy McCann Professor for Women in Medicine
Joseph J. Byrne Chair in Biomedical Research, Herman G. Berkman Chair in Diabetes Care Innovation established at UMMS

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