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June 8, 2000


Three researchers with Pitt's Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute who were in Chicago last week attending Transplant 2000, the first joint meeting of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) and the American Society of Transplantation (AST), took home cash awards that will support their individual research efforts.


Jennifer Woodward, research assistant professor of surgery, won the AST-Roche Investigator Award, which consists of a two-year $70,000 grant. Woodward, who works in the laboratory of Abdul Rao, will use the award to support her research into identifying and understanding the origin and development of chronic rejection. Her other research interests include exploring cellular and molecular strategies for inducing and maintaining tolerance of transplanted pancreatic islet cells and bone marrow cells and on understanding the mechanisms of organ rejection.


Angus Thomson, professor of surgery and professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry, received $25,000 as the winner of the AST-Novartis Established Investigator Award. The award is given to distinguished clinical or basic scientists in the field of transplantation who are over the age of 45. Each year, one basic scientist and one clinical researcher are chosen. Thomson, who is a basic scientist, has conducted pioneering work on the role of dendritic cells as regulators of immune reactivity and is currently evaluating the role of these cells in transplant tolerance and rejection. Thomson has been involved for many years in evaluation of new immunosuppressive agents, and his current interests include methods to detect and induce tolerance, and the feasibility of gene therapy to control organ rejection. Thomson is currently principal investigator of grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and research foundations and serves on a number of editorial boards.


As winner of the ASTS-Roche Presidential Travel Award, David Geller, Samuel P. Harbison Assistant Professor of Surgery, received $10,000 for travel to laboratories or scientific meetings anywhere in the world. Only those who are under the age of 42 are eligible to receive the award, which is intended to foster the development of an investigator's specialized field. Furthermore, the recipient must be an established investigator who has published widely and has received at least one NIH grant. In addition to specializing in liver transplant surgery, Geller is engaged in a number of research endeavors. Among his research interests are the molecular mechanism of liver injury, the role of gene therapy in liver transplantation, and the transcriptional gene regulation of the human iNOS (inducible nitric oxide synthase) gene, for which Geller has received three patents.


In addition to these three awards, researchers working in Pitt laboratories also won Young Investigator Awards, which recognize the most outstanding scientific abstracts submitted for presentation at the meeting. The award provides a cash prize to help cover travel expenses associated with attending the meeting.

Those receiving Young Investigator Awards were Abhay N. Vats, Vera S. Donnenberg, Diana Metes, Matthew J. Schuchert, Zhiliang Wang, Toshio Miki and Yoshihito Takahashi.


Steve Lewis, head track and field coach, has been named the 2000 Midatlantic Region Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year by the United States Track Coaches Association. In addition, Pitt senior Chantee Earl was named by the association as Midatlantic Regional Women's Track Athlete of the Year.

Lewis led the Panthers to a 2nd place in the Eastern College Athletic Association (ECAC) Outdoor Championships and 6th place at the Big East Outdoor Championships.

Earl won the 800 meters at both the ECAC and Big East Outdoor Championships and owns the school record in the event both indoors and outdoors. She finished second in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 2.


Anthony Grace, faculty member in the Department of Neuroscience, has won the Dr. Paul Janssen Schizophrenia Research Award for 1998-2000. The award consists of a plaque and $25,000. The award will be presented to Grace in Brussels on July 9.


Melanie O. Anderson, assistant professor and assistant director of continuing education at the Titusville campus, has been named a Sam M. Walton Enterprise Fellow for the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team on the Titusville campus.

Active on more than 700 campuses, SIFE encourages students to apply their classroom learning to real-life situations and to use their knowledge to better their communities through educational outreach projects.

Walton fellows train and motivate SIFE team members. Under Anderson, UPT's SIFE Team was named second runner-up and rookie of the year in the two-year division at the 2000 SIFE Regional Exposition and Career Opportunity Fair.


Joseph M. Ahearn Jr., associate professor of medicine, director of research at the University of Pittsburgh Arthritis Institute and a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, has been appointed to a four-year term on the National Institutes of Health Allergy and Immunology Study Section, Center for Scientific Review.

Ahearn's research focuses on the innate immune system, with specific attention to the etiology and pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus.


The School of Law recently established its first fully funded faculty chair in honor of W. Edward Sell. Funds raised at a dinner last year to commemorate Sell's 50 years of teaching contributed to creating the W. Edward Sell Endowed Faculty Chair, which had been the W. Edward Sell Professorship.

Douglas M. Branson, who joined the Pitt law faculty in 1996 as the W. Edward Sell Professor of Business Law, will fill the chair. He is one of the top corporate law experts in the country. His most recent book is "Corporate Governance," published by Michie & Co.

"The establishment of the first faculty chair at the School of Law is a very exciting event," said David Herring, law school dean. "It is even more exciting because it is a chair in Ed Sell's name. Dean Sell has been the cornerstone of this law school for over 50 years. The Sell Chair will allow us to retain an outstanding business law teacher and scholar. Doug Branson is a star in legal education, and living proof of the powerful benefits provided by faculty chairs."

Sell began his teaching career at Pitt in 1947 after graduating from Yale Law School. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics from Washington and Jefferson College in 1944, graduating magna cum laude. He served as a full-time professor of law longer than any other person in the history of the school; he also was dean from 1966 to 1977.

Sell's expertise in corporate law made him known as the "Father of Pennsylvania's Modern Business Corporation Statute." He is the author of several books and scholarly titles on corporate law, including a multi-volume work, "Pennsylvania Business Corporations," considered a standard in the Pennsylvania legal community.

A recipient of both the law school's Excellence-in-Teaching Award and the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, Sell is now Emeritus Distinguished Service Professor and dean emeritus at the law school. He also serves as consultant on judicial education to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

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