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June 25, 2009

Distinguished Professors from med school named

Pitt has named four School of Medicine faculty members as Distinguished Professors, the highest honor that can be accorded a member of the professorship. They are Charles D. Bluestone, Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology; Olivera J. Finn, Distinguished Professor of Immunology; William C. de Groat, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, and Karen A. Matthews, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry.

The rank of Distinguished Professor honors extraordinary, internationally recognized scholarly attainment in an individual discipline or field. All four appointments, made by Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, are effective July 1.

• Bluestone earned both his undergraduate and medical degrees at Pitt. He became the School of Medicine’s first Eberly Professor of Pediatric Otolaryngology in 1996.

His research interests include otitis media — a middle ear disease common among children — as well as eustachian tube function and pediatric tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

In 1975, he was named the first full-time director of the Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology at CHP and a professor of otolaryngology in the School of Medicine.

He founded the Pittsburgh Otitis Media Research Center at CHP and Pitt, where researchers investigate medical and surgical treatments for otitis media and conduct clinical studies related to the disease.

Among Bluestone’s awards is the 2003 Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

• de Groat, who joined the faculty in 1968, researches urinary dysfunction and pain after spinal cord injury. His main interest is in the neural control of the lower urinary tract and the mechanisms that affect incontinence and other bladder conditions.

He has received both the chancellor’s research and teaching awards. He also received the 2007 Reeve-Irvine Research Medal for his lab’s studies of the mechanisms underlying recovery of autonomic nervous system function following spinal cord injury.

Educated at Penn’s School of Medicine, de Groat received postdoctoral training there and at the John Curtin School for Medical Research in Australia.

• Finn, chair of the Department of Immunology, has worked to develop pancreatic and colorectal cancer prevention vaccines.

She earned her undergraduate degree in biology at Interamerican University in Puerto Rico, and her PhD in medical microbiology and immunology at Stanford.

Finn made a groundbreaking discovery 20 years ago, when she identified the first cancer antigen — a tumor molecule that prompts a reaction from immune cells.

She is the most recent past president of the American Association of Immunologists.

• Matthews, who was named a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, also is professor of psychology in the School of Medicine and professor of epidemiology in the Graduate School of Public Health. She has been a faculty member here since 1979.

Matthews directs the medical school’s cardiovascular behavioral medicine research program and the Pittsburgh Mind-Body Research Center, jointly operated by Pitt and Carnegie Mellon.

Matthews earned her PhD in psychology at the University of Texas-Austin. Through her research and training programs, she helped develop the psychology of physical illness as a specialty area. Her research has focused on behavioral risk factors for cardiovascular disease and their determinants at key developmental transitions.

Matthews is a member of the Institute of Medicine.

She received the 2005 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology. Her research has been recognized by the American Heart Association, APA’s health psychology and pediatric psychology divisions, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the North American Menopause Society and the American Psychosomatic Society.

(Pitt previously announced the appointment of three other Distinguished Professors. See May 28 and June 11 University Times.)

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