LCOM & Department News

Nowak and Seward Invested as Inaugural Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professors

March 31, 2021 by Christina Davenport

Sarah Nowak, Ph.D., and David Seward, M.D., Ph.D., were invested as the inaugural holders of a Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professorship of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine during a virtual ceremony March 30. UVM Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Emerita Sally Huber, Ph.D., established two separate Green and Gold professorships, one in honor of each of her parents, that will provide crucial funding to promising assistant professors who are likely to develop into successful, independent basic scientists or physician-scientists.

Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professors in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Sarah Nowak, Ph.D., (left) and David Seward, M.D., Ph.D.

In a virtual ceremony held March 30, 2021, two rising stars in the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine, Sarah Nowak, Ph.D., and David Seward, M.D., Ph.D., were invested as the inaugural holders of a Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professorship of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Watch a Recording of the Event 
UVM Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Emerita Sally Huber, Ph.D., established two separate Green and Gold professorships, one in honor of each of her parents, that will provide crucial funding to promising assistant professors who are likely to develop into successful, independent basic scientists or physician-scientists. 

Huber joined the UVM faculty in 1981 and enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the Larner College of Medicine before becoming professor emerita in 2016. She is an internationally recognized educator and researcher with primary research interests in the development of viral myocarditis, how viruses interact with humans, and the critical role played by adaptive immunity. She has made major contributions to research in the fields of cardiac immunology and diabetes, expertise she has been called upon to contribute through service on committees of both the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. Huber also served as a primary mentor to countless graduate students, displaying a deep commitment to future generations of biomedical researchers. 

“In her 40 years of service to this institution, Dr. Huber has been a tireless advocate for the importance of research and education across UVM,” said Larner College of Medicine Dean Rick Page. Huber says an emphasis on academic excellence was instilled early on during her upbringing in Missouri, as her parents, Elmer and Blodwen, demonstrated the virtues of hard work, resilience, and a love of learning.

Elmer Huber was employed by the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company for 49 years, starting as a lineman and telephone installer and eventually rising to head the North St. Louis County district of Southwestern Bell. Blodwen Huber was born on a farm in Pennsylvania before moving to Missouri, where she later met Elmer. She worked as a clerk at McDonald-Douglas Aircraft Company until her retirement. Completing a college degree was a dream deferred for the Hubers, but, through the Great Depression and 62 years of marriage, they instilled a deep respect for higher education in their two daughters, Sally and Roberta.

Sally Huber went on to earn degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Duke University and complete a fellowship at Stanford University. She credits several fellowships from the American Heart Association for helping propel her early career and research at UVM and hopes to provide the same sort of jumpstart for new generations of early investigators.

“My over-arching goal in establishing these professorships is to continue my parents’ spirit for the love of learning and the love of helping others to make a success of their lives,” said Huber.  “I know how welcome support can be at the beginning stages of one’s research career. My hope is to alleviate some stress associated with finding grant support for themselves or their research project during this crucial time of their career development.”

Dean Page expressed supreme confidence in the first appointees to the Huber Green and Gold professorships. “I know that the faculty members we recognize today are poised to live up to this expectation, and to very ably carry on in the spirit of the entire Huber family,” he said.

Nowak, the inaugural holder of the Blodwen S. Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, joined the Larner College of Medicine as an assistant professor in 2019. She earned her undergraduate degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and went on to earn a Ph.D. in biomathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before moving to Vermont, she was a senior information scientist at the RAND Corporation, where she spent a decade applying mathematical simulation approaches to evaluate health insurance reforms, including assessing the impact of the Affordable Care Act on individual and family spending. She was one of the founding co-directors for RAND’s Center for Scalable Computing Analysis (SCAN), where she guided the center in its mission to examine the use of un-curated data, including social media data, in social and economic research. At UVM, Nowak has received continued funding from the National Institutes of Health for her ongoing study of how the information individuals gather through their social networks impacts their decision making, as well as health outcomes at the population level. She is interested in transitioning this work to support the push toward value-based care and implementing policies that lead to the reduction in the use of low-value services.

Seward, the inaugural Elmer R. Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, has been an assistant professor of pathology at the Larner College of Medicine since 2016. He earned a degree in biology and chemistry from Williams College and a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular genetics from the University of Colorado. After earning his medical degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, he completed a residency in anatomic pathology and a fellowship in molecular and genetic pathology at the University of Michigan Hospital, Ann Arbor. At UVM, research conducted in Seward’s lab may have an impact on the future treatment of lung cancer, particularly when surgical resection is not a viable option. His research aims to establish biomarkers of the disease that predict sensitivity to available therapies, including immunotherapy. His clinical work focuses on the interpretation of next generation sequencing data obtained in the evaluation of solid tumors, which helps guide therapy, prognosis, and enrollment in clinical trials. 

The scholarship of Nowak and Seward will undoubtedly continue to bring distinction to the University of Vermont and the Larner College of Medicine, befitting Huber’s distinguished legacy. 

“When a long-time member of the faculty chooses to make such important philanthropic investments, it speaks volumes about the quality and character of a college,” said Provost Patty Prelock. “By creating these professorships, Dr. Huber not only highlights the enduring need for exceptional scholars and teachers in the field of pathology and laboratory medicine, but also expresses her confidence that the University of Vermont will always remain a fitting home for them. For that, we thank you, Dr. Huber.”

 

Past Department Highlights

Congratulations to Jessica Crothers, M.D., Assistant Professor Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, on achieving the Notice of Special Interest Team Science award from NIAID for: "Effects of the gut microbiota on oral vaccine response in adults and children." (10/2023)

Nicole BouffardCongratulations to Nicole Bouffard on being awarded the "Scientific Research Staff Award" for 2023. This was presented to Nicole at the September 21, 2023, LCOM Research Excellence Award Ceremony. This is a great honor for Nicole and the Department of Pathology and recognizes her contributions and importance to the department and MIC. (10/2023)

Congratulations to Brian Cunniff, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, on being awarded a $1.6 million R01 grant by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to study the role of mitochondrial trafficking in regulating cell migration, a key feature of metastatic tumors. (9/2023)

Congratulations to Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., Professor Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, on becoming a University of Vermont Cancer Center Program Co-Leader, Cancer Cell. (9/2023)

Congratulations to the following pathology members on receiving research support funds in April 2023. Recipients were: John Kennedy, M.D., $6520 for morphologic and immunohistochemical re-evaluation of renal cell carcinomas exhibiting papillary architecture, with emphasis on tumors demonstrating "type 2" morphology. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., $15,000 for a joint initiative between RBP, UVM Cancer Center, and faculty in the Department of Chemistry. Megan Tarte $745 for Stem Cells, Cell Therapies, and Bioengineering in Lung Biology and Disease ConferenceAlbert van der Vliet, Ph.D., $14,400 for Redox processes in macrophage activation in IPF. (9/2023)

Congratulations to the following faculty members on their promotions: Vikas Anathy, Ph.D., to Professor with tenure, Bronwyn Bryant, M.D., to Associate Professor, John DeWitt, M.D., Ph.D., to Associate Professor, Sarah Nowak Ph.D., to Associate Professor, and Christi Wojewoda, M.D., to Professor. (6/2023)

Bei Zhang, M.D., M.S., Ph.D., MLS(ASCP), associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, did an educational scholarship session titled "Activate Students Learning Outside Classroom." at the 8th International meeting of the Association of Biochemistry Educators. Dr. Zhang also conducted two additional workshops with other ABE members titled "Linking Clinical Presentations to Their Biochemistry: A novel ABE Clinical-Biochemistry Curricular Treat Mapping Educational Tool.", and "Getting to Clerkship and Beyond: Crafting Biochemistry Learning Objectives that Connect and Integrate Basic Science Concepts with Clinical Application." (5/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Maureen Harmon, M.D., associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and Dr. Amer Abu Alfa, M.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine for being recognized by medical students for their professionalism. Dr. Harmon was recognized for social responsibility and Dr. Abu Alfa was recognized for compassion. (5/2023)

Congratulations to Mary Cushman, Ph.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine and pathology and laboratory medicine, on being named a University Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Hematology/Oncology Division, and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. (5/2023)

View the story Mammograms of a study by Sarah Nowak, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and researchers at the UVM Cancer Center showing data that fewer women being screened for breast cancer. (4/2023)

vandervliet-habibovic420x280A new study by Albert van der Vliet, Ph.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and a team of University of Vermont (UVM) researchers is honing in on why people with asthma often have worse symptoms if they are obese. This new research demonstrates that the gene DUOX1 likely contributes to the connection between obesity and asthma.  The research was published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology and was highlighted as an APSselect article for March 2023. Albert van der Vliet, Ph.D., was the senior author on the paper, along with department of pathology and laboratory medicine coauthors Aida Habibovic, lab research technician;Litiele Cruz, Ph.D., visiting scholar; Vikas Anathy, Ph.D., associate professor; University Distinguished Professor Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D.; and additional team members and authors from UVM. Read the full LCOM News story LCOM News (4/2023)

Congratulations to Bronwyn Bryant, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, for having your proposal, Consequential Validity of Entrustable Professional Activities in Pathology Residency Training selected to receive a Frymoyer Scholars Program project of $48,000 to be funded July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2025. (4/2023)

Congratulations to Martin Chang, M.D., Ph.D., on accepting the new role as Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs. (4/2023)

Congratulations to Joanna Conant, M.D., on becoming the new Pathology Student Fellowship Director starting July 1, 2023. (4/2023)

Congratulations to The Cunniff Lab, on receiving funding to support research focused on malignant mesothelioma. The funding was from The Butler Family Foundation Fund for Cancer Research at the University of Vermont Cancer Center. The Butler Fund was established by the Butler family in memory of two loved ones lost to mesothelioma. (03/2023)

Congratulations to the following recipients that received pathology research support funding. Nathaniel Shannon in Brian Cunniff's, Ph.D., lab was awarded $1800 towards the cost of travel to the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine (SfRBM). Litiele Cruz, Ph.D., and faculty mentor Albert van der Vliet, PhD., were awarded $2622 for her project "Characterization of Laminin Oxidative Modifications by Peroxidasin in Pulmonary Fibrosis"Nels Olson, PhD., MPH., $14,582 for the purchase of an Agilent BioTek 405 TS Touch Microplate Washer, Model 405 TSRS. Ashley Volaric M.D.Joanna Conant M.D., and David Seward, M.D, Ph.D., were awarded $13,680 for their project, "The Effect of Epstein Barr Virus Latency on Cellular DNA Methylation Profile of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma". (3/2023)

A number of faculty and students from the pathology and laboratory medicine department presented research at the American Heart Associations Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health (EPI/Lifestyle) Scientific Sessions 2023 in Boston February 28 - March 3. Students presenting were Maggie King, a master in science pathology degree student who was mentored by faculty scientist J. Peter Durda, Ph.D. pathology and laboratory medicine.  Maggie presented on "Complete Blood Count Analysis in the Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal (RURAL) Cohort Study with a Point of Care Instrument." Her study is supported by NHLBI. And second-year medical student and 2022 Cardiovascular Research Institute Summer Research Fellow Megan Zhou, mentored by pathology and laboratory medicine associate professor Nels Olson, Ph.D. Megan presented on  "Coagulation Factor IX and Incident Diabetes Risk: The Reasons for Geographic and Race Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study." Also, pathology and laboratory faculty members that were coauthors of presentations given, assistant professor Margaret Doyle, Ph.D., and University Distinguished Professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, Russell Tracy, Ph.D. (3/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Bei Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., MLS(ASCP), associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, for being selected for a Distinguished Scholar Award by the Association of Biochemistry Educators for her submission entitled "Activate Students' Learning Outside Classroom". Dr. Zhang will be presenting this submission at the 2023 Association of Biochemistry Education Conference. (3/2023)

Congratulations to our 2023 Gender Equity Award Nominees. Gender Equity Champion Award nominee, Debra Leonard, M.D., Ph.D., Chair and Professor Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Our departmental nominees for The Polaris Award for Outstanding Mentorship- an award for informal or formal mentorship for women or gender diverse college community members, Rebecca Wilcox, M.D., Pam Gibson, M.D., Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., and Christi Wojewoda, M.D. (2/2023)  

Congratulations to Dr. Scott Anderson, M.D., on being selected to receive the Association of Pathology Chairs 2023 Margaret Grimes Distinguished Achievement Award in Graduate Medical Education. This award was made in recognition of Dr. Anderson's outstanding contributions to graduate medical education and his stature as a nationally recognized leader in pathology education. (2/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., Dr. Kelly Butnor, M.D., Dr. David "Bebo" Seward, M.D., Ph.D., and Dr. Sharon Mount, M.D., on their news story in The Charlotte News, on their "giant steps in cancer research." Read the full article here:   Humble Superstar (1/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Elizabeth Bundock, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Examiner of Vermont and clinical assistant professor of pathology, for her appointment by the American Board of Pathology, to the Test Development and Advisory Committee for Forensic Pathology 2023. (1/2023)

Dr. Beri Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., MLS(ASCP), associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, presented a panel, at the Snow Season Education Retreat, titled "The Pearls and Pitfalls of Publishing in Medical Education", with three clinicians Dr. Hale, Dr. Halle, and Dr. Rideout. (1/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Bronwyn Bryant, M.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine on her Awards for  Teaching and Educational Excellence, Learner Assessment, conferred at the Teaching Academy Induction and Award Ceremony on January 11, 2023. (1/2023)

Albert in JapanCongratulations to Dr. Albert van der Vliet, Ph.D., pro-fessor of pathology and laboratory medicine, for being selected as an Invited Fellow to Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, to participate in research in the laboratory of Takaaki Akaike, M.D., Ph.D., professor of environmental medicine and molecular toxicology. The invitational fellowship relates to a Tohoku University initiative that allows Tohoku faculty members to host invited researchers to promote collaborative research in the host lab for up to three months. The objective is to promote joint publications and expand international collaborations. Dr. van der Vliet's visit coincided with a medley of scientific meetings and symposia collectively termed  Redox Week In Sendai 2022 and held October 27-November 1, 2022. The events brought together leading scientists from around the world in the specific research fields of nitric oxide biology, polysulfur biochemistry, and biology. Van der Vliet was co-organizer and speaker at one of the symposiums, and Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., and Brian Cunniff, Ph.D., both professors of pathology and laboratory medicine, also participated as invited speakers. Additional Japanese federal funding supports the exchange of invited researchers, graduate students, and post-doctoral scholars to collaborate on research. Read more about the  redox research collaboration  between UVM and Tohoku University. (01/2023) 

Congratulations to Dr. Douglas Taatjes, Ph.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and director of the Center for Biomedical Shared Resources, at the UVM Cancer Center's recent annual scientific retreat he and Dr. Alan Howe, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, were chosen from a group of five cross-disciplinary teams that competed for $25,000 in seed funding. They were chosen by a vote of the membership. Each team had 30 minutes to develop an idea with an actionable research plan that aligned with one of several proposed Cancer Center initiatives to address research relevant to the populations of Vermont and northern New York. The funds were awarded for the "Spatialomics and Precision Medicine Pipeline" project. This will be co-led by Dr. Taatjes, Ph.D., and Dr. Howe, Ph.D. (12/2022)

DebraDr. Debra Leonard, M.D., Ph.D., was the invited speaker for the Women in Cytometry reception at the 2022 International Clinical Cytometry Society Annual Meeting in Montreal on October 23. Dr. Leonard presented a talk titled "Leading from Within". Dr. Nicholas Haslett presented a poster at this same meeting. (10/2022)

Congratulations to Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., on her Lung Cancer Discovery Award from the American Lung Association. Read the full article here: VermontBiz (10/2022)

Larner Medicine profiles Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., and her research. Read the full profile here: Probing Oxygen's Mysteries (10/2022)

Research News see the news on UVM vaccine trials on eradicating polio and lead investigator Dr. Jessica Crothers, M.D., Read the full article here:  Research News (10/2022)

Congratulations, to Dr. Laura Greene, M.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and assistant dean for admissions, who recently accepted an appointment as program director of the Pathology Residency Program, effective July 1, 2023. Thank you to Dr. Scott Anderson, M.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, who as served as the program director since 2009. (10/2022)

Congratulations, to Dr. Jason Brazelton, M.D., for being named Physician of the Year by the Vermont Medical Society. "Dr. Brazelton's thoughtful and collabrative approach has improved care in our community and Porter's Medical staff has been incredibly fortunate to work with him." (09/2022)