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October 23, 2008


David H. Perlmutter, Vira I. Heinz Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine.

The institute provides evidence-based information and advice concerning health and science policy to policy-makers, professionals and the public at large.

Perlmutter, who also serves as scientific director and physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital, is one of only 65 new members and five foreign associates. Current active members elect new members from among candidates nominated for their professional achievement and commitment to service.

Since joining Children’s Hospital in 2001, Perlmutter has led an effort to expand the hospital’s basic and clinical research program to investigate the molecular basis of pediatric disease and to develop new therapies for childhood illnesses. Under his leadership, Children’s has become one of the fastest-growing pediatric research programs in the country in terms of National Institutes of Health funding from 2000 to 2005.

Perlmutter has carried out basic research on alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, the most common genetic liver disease of childhood, for more than 20 years. His work has led to many new concepts about the pathobiology of liver disease in this deficiency and has suggested several new concepts for chemoprophylaxis of chronic liver injury, hepatocellular carcinoma and emphysema in this genetic disease.

Perlmutter’s research has been recognized by numerous awards including the E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics.

He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians and the advisory council of the National Institute for Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. He has served as president of the Society of Pediatric Research.


Constance Chu, a researcher in cartilage degeneration, repair and regeneration, has been chosen as the recipient of the Albert B. Ferguson Jr., M.D., Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery at the School of Medicine.

Chu is director of the cartilage restoration program and one of only a handful of board-certified orthopaedic surgeons conducting research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Her cartilage research program is recognized internationally for innovative studies integrating cellular and molecular biology along with advanced and novel imaging technologies.

Chu recently received the honor of being only the second American woman awarded the ABC Traveling Fellowship in Orthopaedics, which recognizes emerging academic leaders.

In 2007, she received the Kappa Delta Young Investigator Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in recognition of her research efforts that have had a direct impact on the clinical practice of orthopaedic surgery.


Donald S. Burke, dean of the Graduate School of Public Health and UPMC-Jonas Salk Professor of Global Health, has been appointed to the Allegheny County Board of Health for a term that will expire on Jan. 11, 2012. The Board of Health is a nine-member governing board appointed by the county chief executive, subject to approval by County Council. 

The board appoints and advises the county health director, and formulates rules and regulations for the prevention of disease, the prevention and removal of conditions that constitute a menace to health, and the promotion and preservation of the public’s health.


W. Richard (Dick) Howe, associate dean in the School of Arts and Sciences, will receive the 2008 Distinguished Service Award Nov. 5 from the Pittsburgh section of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Howe has served as chair of the Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh and as president of the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, a non-profit corporation whose mission is to promote science education programs.

He has worked with ACS nationally on special issues of Today’s Chemist at Work and Analytical Chemistry on the history of analytical instrumentation and the 50th anniversary of Pittcon, the volunteer group that organizes the Pittsburgh Conference and its annual exposition. He also is an organizer of the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) permanent museum of historical chemical instruments. CHF is an ACS affiliate.

Howe helped bring the International Chemistry Olympics to Pittsburgh in 1992. For his work on the project he was made an honorary member of ACS.


Joseph C. Maroon, clinical professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the School of Medicine and a UPMC neurosurgeon, recently finished 19th in his division in the Hawaiian Ford Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii.

Maroon finished with a time of 15 hours, 57 minutes and 20 seconds in what is considered the crown jewel of international triathlons. The event consists of a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile marathon.

Maroon, 68, has completed more than 60 triathlon events of the Olympic distance category and five other Ironman distance events.

Charles Wessel has been appointed head of hospital services at the Health Sciences Library System. In this position, he oversees information policies and services at HSLS libraries at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and UPMC Shadyside and continues to coordinate HSLS information instruction and support at other UPMC hospitals.

Wessel has been coordinator of affiliated hospital services since 1998 and has worked at HSLS in other roles since 1986.


Dan Budny, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and academic director of the Swanson School of Engineering’s freshman programs, has received the International Engineering Educator Award from the International Society for Engineering Education. Budny is only the second American to receive this award.

Budny’s academic interests are in the fields of basic fluid mechanics and in the development of programs that assist entering freshmen either on a standard track or through counseling and cooperative learning environments for academically disadvantaged students.


Radisav D. Vidic, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has received the 2008 Professor of the Year award from the Pittsburgh section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Vidic’s teaching interests include water chemistry and physical/chemical processes in natural and engineered systems. His primary research interests are in the area of surface science and physical/chemical processes for water, wastewater, hazardous waste and air treatment.

His recent work has focused on fundamental studies of molecular interactions on carbonaceous surfaces, control of mercury emissions from combustion processes by adsorption-based technologies, development of novel sorbents for elemental mercury uptake through industrial ecology, phytoremediation of arsenic-contaminated waters, novel disinfection methods for the control of pathogens in water distribution systems and membrane filtration for water purification.


The People of the Times column features recent news on faculty and staff, including awards and other honors, accomplishments and administrative appointments.

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