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.”

 

Department Highlights

Terri Messier, Research Analyst and Lab Manager of the Cunniff lab was recently awarded a Dean's Excellence in Research Award from the Larner College of Medicine. Terri has served the UVM community for over 25 years both as a scientist and steward of professionalism. Congratulations Terri!! (11/2020)

Congratulations to Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D. on her selection as a new Fellow of the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine (SfRBM) in recognition of her outstanding contributions in the field of redox biology and to SfRBM. (09/2020)

Congratulations to Dr. Joanna Conant, M.D. on her acceptance into the Teaching Academy's Medical Education Fellowship Program. Only 8-10 faculty from across the Larner College of Medicine are selected for participation in the program. Well done, Jo! (08/2020)

Associate Professor, Dr. Laura Greene, MD, has been appointed Interim Assistant Dean for Admissions for the Larner College of Medicine. (08/2020)

Congratulations to Bei Zhang, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, the newest graduate of the Medical Education Fellowship Program. The cohort style program is for Larner College of Medicine educators who seek additional preparation for teaching across the medical education continuum. (07/2020)

UVM Health Network’s Genomic Medicine Program is highlighted in the recent issue of Vermont Medicine Magazine, read it here. (05/2020)

Department efforts in COVID-19 research & testing are ongoing at UVM LCOM and the UVM Medical Center. The Rutland Herald/Times Argus ran the following story on these efforts. Teamwork & Testing (04/2020)

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LCOM Gender Equity Awards Department Chair, Dr. Debra Leonard received the Polaris Award for Outstanding Mentorship. Additionally, Dr. Pam Gibson was nominated for the Gender Equity Champion Award; Dr. Rebecca Wilcox was nominated for the Gender Equity Outstanding Achievement in Medicine and Science Award and Dr. Christi Wojewoda was nominated for the Rising Star Emerging Professional Award. (03/2020)

Excellence in Education The department was well represented at the Class of 2022 Foundation Awards. Rebecca Wilcox, M.D. received the AWMA Gender Equity Award, the Above & Beyond Award, the Foundations Course Director Award and the Foundations Teaching Award. Well done, Dr. Wilcox. Additional department nominees were Dr. Pam Gibson and Dr. Christi Wojewoda for the AWMA Gender Equity Award and Dr. Pam Gibson and Dr. Rebecca Wilcox for the Dean Warshaw Integration Award. Congratulations to our outstanding faculty for nominations and awards! (1/2020)

Dr. Bei Zhang, Associate Professor on the Education Scholar Pathway has been inducted into the Teaching Academy at the Larner College of Medicine at the Master Teacher level. Congratulations, Dr. Zhang! (1/2020)

Dr. Debra Leonard, M.D., Ph. D., our department chairand the Genomic Medicine Team announce the start of the Genomic Population Health Initiative. A pilot project offering Genomic DNA Testing is now underway within the University of Vermont Health Network. Read more here... (2019)

Dr. William Pendlebury, M.D., professor emeritus of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, has been selected to receive the 2019 Vermont Medical Society’s (VMS) Founders’ Award. The award recognizes Pendlebury’s leadership role and advocacy in “the fight for the diagnosis and treatment of dementia in Vermont for the past 35 years.” He will receive the award November 2 at the VMS 206th Annual Meeting in Stowe, Vt.(2019)

Yvone Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., Jos van der Velden, Ph.D. (both Pathology & Laboratory Medicine faculty) and senior author, Charles Irvin, Ph.D. (Medicine), published "The Effect of Flavored E-cigarettes on Murine Allergic Airways Disease" in Nature Scientific Reports. The study has been cited in stories by several news outlets: U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay; American Journal of Managed Care; Medical News Bulletin; and Medical Daily. (2019)

Dr. Mark Fung, M.D, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for Population Health, was recently named to the board of directors for the Project Santa Fe Foundation, which “focuses on demonstrating the power of longitudinal clinical laboratory data to proactively augment population health in a value-based healthcare environment.” (2019)

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Dr. Bronwyn Bryant, M.D. was named a 2019 Frymoyer Scholar for her project, “Validating Entrustable Professional Activity-Based Assessment to Determine On-Call Competency in Pathology Residents”. (2019)

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Dr. Rebecca Wilcox, M.DDr. Rebecca Wilcox, M.D. was selected, by the Larner College of Medicine Class of 2019, to be the commencement keynote speaker. Read more... [Photo credit: Andy Duback 2019] (2019)

Please join Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger in congratulating Allison Manuel and Evan Elko

 

Dr. Allison Manuel is a post-doctoral fellow in our group.  Her abstract to be presented at the American Thoracic Society conference was chosen to receive an Abstract Scholarship . The scholarship includes a full In-Training Registration to the 2019 ATS International Conference in Dallas, Texas.  

 

Evan Elko is a PhD student. He just received notice that his F31 NIH application entitled: “Role of peroxiredoxin-4 in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis”  will be funded.

 

Congratulations to Evan and Allison.

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Department alumni, Dr. Bobbi Pritt, M.D. featured in Vermont Medicine Magazine. To read her story click on the photo below.

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Dr's Leonard and HuberA Remarkable Gift from Dr. Sally Huber, Ph.D.

At the end of last week's Research Day, Dr. Leonard gave a surprise announcement: a very generous bequethment of $5 million by research faculty emerita, Dr. Sally Huber! The funds will go toward two endowed professorships for junior investigators in our department. The endowments will be named for her parents, Elmer R. Huber and Blodwen S. Huber, and will support junior research faculty for five years.(9/2018)

This amazing support will allow junior faculty time and funds to gain independence while pursuing the milestone achievement of being awarded their first R01 grant.

Heintz Awarded 2018 Distinguised Graduate Alumni Award

Dr. Nick Heintz, Ph.D. received the 2018 UVM Medical Alumni Association’s Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award​, which is presented to Larner College of Medicine (LCOM) alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in basic, clinical or applied research; education; industry; public service/humanitarianism; and/or outstanding commitment to the LCOM community.

He accepted his award at the college's Celebrating Research Excellence event at the end of October. (September 2018)

Kida Received Certificate of Commendation

Dr. Kida receives award from the State of Vermont...read more here. (August 2018)

Leonard and Committee Publish Through National Academies Press

Dr. Debra Leonard, along with a committee under the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, ​published "Returning Individual Research Results to Participants: Guidance for a New Research Paradigm" through The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2018 (Committee Member). (August 2018)

Excellence in Education

The Larner College of Medicine’s second year medical students nominate and elect faculty who they want to recognize for their outstanding teaching and support over their first years of the Foundations education. (February 2018)

Pathology nominees (winners in bold):

AMWA Gender Equity Award  - Pamela Gibson; Sharon Mount; Rebecca Wilcox

Dean Warhsaw Integration Award - Rebecca Wilcox

Silver Stethoscope Award - Scott Andreson; Maureen Harmon; John Lunde

Above and Beyond Award - Ronald Bryant; Rebecca Wilcox

Foundations Course Director Award -Rebecca Wilcox

Outstanding Foundations Course Award

  • Cardiovascular, Respiratory & Renal Systems: (Ron Bryant; Kelly Butnor; and Pam Gibson are the primary pathologists in each section of the course, respectively)
  • Nutrition, Metabolism & the Gastrointestinal System: Course Director is Rebecca Wilcox

Foundations Teaching Award - Ronald Bryant; Pamela Gibson; Rebecca Wilcox; Christina Wojewoda

Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger Receives Patent

Yvonne Janssen-Heinger was awarded a patent on the ​concept that strategies to inhibit GSTP has utility for the treatment of patients with pulmonary fibrosis. Congratulations, Yvonne! (January 2018)

Drs. Bronwyn Bryant and Phillip Munson inducted into the Teaching Academy

Last week Bronwyn and Phillip were inducted into University of Vermont's Teaching Academy. The Teaching Academy sustains and supports an interdisciplinary community of educators who value the scholarship of teaching and learning while facilitating educator development; improve the efficiency and quality of medical education through collaboration and scholarship; and promote an academic environment that increases the value and impact of educators locally, regionally, and nationally. (January 2018)