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September 1, 2011

People of the Times

Audrey J. Murrell, a faculty member with appointments in business administration, psychology and public and international affairs and director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership in the business school, was honored for her volunteerism and service to the City of Pittsburgh with a proclamation from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Ravenstahl had proclaimed Aug. 12 as “Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s Citizens Service Recipient, Dr. Audrey Murrell Day.” The proclamation recognizes Murrell’s accomplishments, including educating and encouraging students in service learning; dedicating her research to opportunities for women, and championing diversity among organizations. She has served numerous groups throughout the city as a volunteer consultant and mentor.

The award recognizes “community leaders who have contributed exceptional levels of service towards the advancement of Pittsburgh communities,” Ravenstahl wrote in an Aug. 12 letter to Murrell.

In his proclamation, Ravenstahl also cited Murrell’s contribution as lead author of the books “Intelligent Mentoring: How IBM Creates Value Through People, Knowledge and Relationships” and “Mentoring Dilemmas: Developmental Relationships Within the Multicultural Organization.”

Andrea Loughner, parking office manager in the office of Parking, Transportation and Services, was named 2011 Supervisor of the Year by the International Parking Institute, the largest trade association representing parking professionals and the parking industry worldwide.

Loughner has worked at the University for 23 years, 15 of them as a parking office administrator.

According to press materials from the institute, Loughner is considered by her staff to be the backbone of the office, and she is credited with creating and maintaining a professional environment. “Without a dedicated IT staff for the parking department, Loughner’s IT skills are self-taught, and she made the implementation of new parking software seamless. She also established a new system and database with payment information, which has improved customer relations,” the institute stated.

Wu FeliciaFelicia Wu, a faculty member in environmental and occupational health at the Graduate School of Public Health, will receive 2011 SCOPE-Zhongyu Young Scientist Award on Environmental Issues for her research on environmental management.

The SCOPE-Zhongyu Environmental Awards recognize and encourage outstanding scientists who contribute to the improvement of the world environment through promotion of environmental sciences, technology innovation and sustainable policy and management.

Through these awards, SCOPE and Zhongyu Environmental Technologies Corp. seek to sustain and guide the development of environmental science and technology and to foster cooperation between scientists and decision-makers in environmental protection and management strategies. The awards are given annually to three researchers who have made outstanding achievements or significant contributions to research on  environmental sciences, environmental technology and  environmental management.

The awards ceremony will take place in Yixing, China, in November.

Wu’s research focused on risk analysis, management and communication as applied to environmental and health issues, such as genetically modified organisms; foodborne mycotoxins; domestic and international food policy; indoor air quality, and waterborne microbial and chemical contaminants.

Smith, SharonPitt-Greensburg President Sharon P. Smith has been elected as vice chair of the Excela Health board of trustees. She also serves as chair of the Excela finance committee, as well as serving on its human resources committee.

Excela Health is the largest provider of health care in Westmoreland County.

Francesca Savoia, a faculty member in the Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures and director of undergraduate studies in Italian, was awarded the American Association for Italian Studies’ prize for the best book published in 2010 in 18th- and 19th-century Italian studies.

The title of the book is “Fra letterati e galantuomini. Notizie e inediti del primo Baretti inglese.”

Savoia’s fields of study and research interests include Italian theatre, opera and 17th- and 18th-century Italian literature and cultural history.

David Anderson, a faculty member in prosthodontics at the School of Dental Medicine, has been selected as the recipient of the 2011 National Dental Association Foundation/Colgate-Palmolive Faculty Recognition Award in the category of administration/service. The award honors individuals who have demonstrated excellence in professional development and a willingness to help others in their quest for knowledge and advancement.

Ralph Roskies, scientific co-director of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), has been appointed to the board of regents of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), part of the National Institutes of Health. The appointment, for a four-year term, was made by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

NLM is the world’s largest biomedical library. As a developer of electronic information services, it delivers trillions of bytes of data to millions of users every day.

At PSC, Roskies was principal investigator of the National Resource for Biomedical Supercomputing (NRBSC), the first external biomedical supercomputing program funded by NIH. NRBSC has developed software tools used with the NLM’s Visible Human project, which enhances anatomy training through innovative, interactive viewing.

A Pitt physics faculty member, Roskies has been scientific co-director of PSC since it was established in 1986.

UPMC’s Center for Inclusion has recognized a Pitt individual and an organization with Inclusion Champion Awards for making significant efforts to promote inclusion and diversity in the workplace and the community.

The honorees include Diane Collins, an associate adjunct faculty member in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, who was honored in the Workplace Champion category, and the Institute of Politics, which was recognized in the Inclusion in the Community category.

Launched in 2008, the UPMC Center for Inclusion serves as a resource for UPMC employees, business and community partners and residents in the Pittsburgh region.

mary_happMary Beth Happ of the Department of Acute/Tertiary Care, School of Nursing has been appointed to the UPMC Health System Chair in Nursing Science.

Happ’s research focuses on understanding and improving communication with nonspeaking patients in acute and critical care settings. She has studied the processes of care and communication among patients with prolonged mechanical ventilation and have explored the feasibility of using electronic communication aids with nonspeaking ICU and postoperative head/neck cancer patients.

She is a member of several nursing and interdisciplinary professional associations including the American Academy of Nurses, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, American Thoracic Society and the Gerontological Society of America.

Happ holds a secondary appointment at the Center for Bioethics and Health Law and is a participating faculty member at the Institute to Enhance Palliative Care.

Several pharmacy faculty members have been recognized recently.

Sandra Kane-Gill of pharmacy and therapeutics has been selected as the recipient of the 2011 American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Critical Care Practice and Research Network (PRN) Research Award for her outstanding contributions to the field of critical care. She will be honored during the ACCP annual meeting in Pittsburgh in October.

The ACCP Critical Care PRN is a group of more than 1,000 pharmacists who share an interest in and who focus on the pharmacotherapy of critically ill patients.

Thomas Nolin, also of pharmacy and therapeutics, has been elected as a fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. Fellowship in ACCP recognizes and rewards the highest levels of excellence in the practice and science of clinical pharmacy and is the highest honor ACCP can bestow on its members. Nolin will be inducted at the upcoming ACCP annual meeting.

Amy_SeybertAmy Seybert, interim chair of the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, also has been elected as a fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.

Seybert directs the cardiovascular specialty and critical care specialty residencies at the School of Pharmacy and is the pharmaceutical care coordinator for critical care at UPMC’s Department of Pharmacy. She is associate director for pharmacy programs at the Peter M. Winter Institute for Simulation Education and Research.

Kristine Schonder of pharmacy and therapeutics was selected as a co-chair of the National Quality Forum renal endorsement maintenance steering committee for end-stage renal disease. The committee evaluates measures for public reporting and quality improvement addressing quality of care for patients with kidney disease. Measures recommended for endorsement by the steering committee are used by national organizations and regulatory agencies.  Schonder is the only pharmacist on the steering committee.

Susan_SkledarSusan Skledar, vice chair of pharmacy and therapeutics and director for the drug use and disease state management program, received the 2010-11 Pharmacy Residency Preceptor of the Year award. This award is given annually to recognize a preceptor who has served as a role model, mentor and educator of pharmacy residents at Pitt and UPMC.

The scientist-entrepreneur who led efforts to map the first draft of the human genome, as well as the complete diploid genome, and to construct the first synthetic bacterium has been named this year’s recipient of the University Dickson Prize in Medicine.

VenterJ. Craig Venter, founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute and founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics, will accept the School of Medicine’s most prestigious honor during Science 2011.

Venter will deliver the Dickson Prize in Medicine lecture Oct. 6 in Alumni Hall. In a talk titled “From Reading to Writing the Genetic Code,” he will describe some of his team’s best-known achievements, including in 2001 completing the first draft of the human genome, which was a composite of several individuals, and in 2007 completing the first diploid human genome — Venter’s own.

SocinskiMark A. Socinski, an expert in lung cancer research, has been appointed the director of the lung cancer section of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the School of Medicine, co-director of the UPMC Center for Excellence in Lung Cancer and co-director of the lung and thoracic malignancies program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

This month Socinski will become the first member of Pitt’s Department of Medicine faculty to have a joint appointment as professor of surgery in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Socinski is an expert in the development of novel chemotherapy agents and treatment strategies for advanced non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer.

He has played a leading role in developing aggressive and innovative combined-modality approaches to treat patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer, and he is at the forefront of integrating novel targeted agents with cytoxic chemotherapy regimens.

Most recently, his clinical research has focused on incorporating personalized medicine and the use of molecular biomarkers in the treatment of lung cancer.

Socinski received his MD from the University of Vermont. He joined the faculty of the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont and University of Vermont in 1989 and then was recruited to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1995, where he served as director of the multidisciplinary thoracic oncology program.

He also co-chairs the National Cancer Institute thoracic malignancy steering committee.

Barbara  Epstein, director of the Health Sciences Library System, will chair the Medical Library Association’s task force for advocating scholarly communication.

Also at HSLS, Melissa Ratajeski, reference librarian, was appointed as chapter council liaison to the Medical Library Association’s membership committee.

Paul Szabolcs, a pioneer in reduced-toxicity cord blood and marrow transplantation, has been appointed as chief of the newly established Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapies at Children’s Hospital.

Under Szabolcs’ leadership, physicians in the new division will design and test disease-specific and biologically rational novel reduced-toxicity transplantation regimens for patients with high-risk leukemia or lymphoma, and for those afflicted with life-threatening inherited conditions that can lead to bone marrow failure, immune deficiency, autoimmune diseases and neurodegenerative conditions.

Szabolcs, also a faculty member in pediatrics at the School of Medicine, comes to Pittsburgh from Duke University Medical Center, where he was as a faculty member in pediatrics and immunology. While at Duke, he established an independent research program that combined basic and clinical investigations focused on understanding the biology of immune reconstitution and allo-reactivity after cord blood transplantation and developed immunotherapy strategies to prevent or treat leukemia relapse after cord blood transplantation.

Szabolcs, an NIH-funded researcher, has developed novel reduced-toxicity transplant conditioning regimens to improve the safety of cord blood transplantation for children afflicted with a variety of non-malignant diseases, including immunodeficiencies and sickle cell anemia.

Szabolcs is a graduate of Semmelweis University School of Medicine in Budapest.


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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