Four faculty members appointed to endowed professorships

UMass Medical School Communications

August 06, 2018

Four faculty members have been appointed to endowed professorships at UMass Medical School in recognition of their contributions to biomedical research, education and patient care, according to Chancellor Michael F. Collins. The appointments have been approved by the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees and each will be formally invested Sept. 13 at the Convocation and Investiture ceremony.

“I would like to take this opportunity to, again, thank our benefactors, who, through their most enduring generosity, express their confidence in our institution and the impact that the University of Massachusetts Medical School can achieve on behalf of people around the world,” Chancellor Collins said.

  Jane Freedman, MD
 

Jane Freedman, MD

   
  Jonathan Gerber, MD
 

Jonathan Gerber, MD

   
  Jason Shohet, MD, PhD 
 

Jason Shohet, MD, PhD

   
  Zhiping Weng, PhD 
 

Zhiping Weng, PhD

Jane Freedman, MD, professor of medicine, director of translational research for the UMass Memorial Heart and Vascular Center and director of the High-Throughput Gene Expression and Biomarker Core Lab, will be invested into the Edward Budnitz, MD, Professorship in Cardiovascular Medicine. Dr. Freedman trained in cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, followed by positions at Georgetown University and Boston University before joining UMMS in 2011. The research core she leads plays a central role in the historic Framingham Heart Study and has identified important risks associated with molecular mediators of inflammation, including cytokines and circulating micro-RNAs. Collins said Freedman is an engaged educator, researcher and caregiver whose work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association; she is one of the most widely-cited authors in her field.


The new holder of the Farrington Chair in Cancer Research will be Jonathan Gerber, MD, who is joining UMMS this month as the chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology in the Department of Medicine and as medical director of the Cancer Center. Dr. Gerber served on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine before joining the Levine Cancer Institute of the Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte as founder and head of the leukemia program, where he helped start the blood and marrow transplantation program. His research focuses on improving the identification and targeting of stem cells at the root of leukemia and related diseases, with the goal of personalizing therapy and developing better treatments that are more effective and less toxic. The assay that he developed to detect leukemia stem cells was granted a U.S. patent in 2015, and it has since been advanced into a clinical trial. Gerber’s team has completed approximately 400 blood and marrow transplants with outcomes that are among the best in the nation.

The new division chief of pediatric hematology and oncology, Jason Shohet, MD, PhD, will be invested as the Ali and John Pierce Chair of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. Dr. Shohet is an accomplished physician-scientist who has contributed significantly to the understanding of neuroblastoma, a solid tumor that occurs primarily in children. His research has earned more than 20 competitive grant awards; his publications have appeared in top scientific journals; and he is a proven leader of clinical care, clinical research and teaching of medical students and pediatric residents alike, Collins said. Shohet earned his MD/PhD at Boston University School of Medicine; he trained at Texas Children’s Hospital; Baylor College of Medicine; and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School. He served on the faculty at Baylor for nearly 20 years.

The Board of Trustees earlier this year approved the establishment of the new Li Weibo Chair in Biomedical Research, which will support research initiatives that advance our fundamental understanding of human biological systems and offer new and innovative pathways to treat human disease. The inaugural recipient is Zhiping Weng, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and director of the Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology. Dr. Weng has built a novel research program that has established UMMS as a leader in bioinformatics. She is a principal investigator of the ENCODE Consortium and leads its data analysis center; she is also a member of the data analysis center of the psychENCODE Consortium. Her research is supported by $6 million in competitive grant funding and she has more than 225 publications to her name.

Collins said Li Weibo, whose leadership gift created The Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research, is one of our medical school’s preeminent supporters. The rare disease research institute, with more than 40 participating faculty, has already begun to catalyze research collaborations and new investigations.

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