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September 11, 2008


Jean Ann Croft, head of preservation in the University Library System since 2000, has been named head of ULS Special Collections. In that role, she oversees a department that consists of more than 52,000 volumes, 560 linear feet of manuscripts and archives, 13,000 photographs, 500,000 theatre programs and various slides, microfilms and other materials.

Croft has served as a principal investigator and has written a number of grant proposals supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

She is an adjunct professor in the School of Information Sciences.

In 1997, Croft received her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Pitt, studying preservation management. In 2006, also at Pitt, she completed her Master of Studies in Law degree, focusing on intellectual property rights.

She will continue overseeing the operations of the preservation department, where she is responsible for the administrative and fiscal management of the in-house bookbinding, reformatting and commercial binding programs.


Transplantation surgeon and stem cell researcher Ira J. Fox has been recruited to direct the new Center for Innovative Pediatric Regenerative Therapies, a joint program of the Pitt School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Fox is former senior associate dean for research at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

UPMC’s historical strength in organ transplantation provides a foundation for the Center for Innovative Pediatric Regenerative Therapies, a program that will develop nontraditional therapies, including those based on adult stem cells, for the treatment of organ failure, cancer and metabolic diseases.

Initially, the center will focus on finding treatments for diseases resulting from liver cell dysfunction.

Over the past decade, Fox has devoted his research to developing alternative ways to regenerate damaged liver cells. He was involved in a groundbreaking treatment of metabolic liver disease using an infusion of human liver cells, first reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1998.

Fox has focused his efforts on overcoming barriers to the use of liver cell transplantation in the treatment of hepatic diseases. His other areas of expertise include gene therapy and stem cell research.

Alan J. Russell, director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and University Professor of Surgery, School of Medicine, said, “Liver regeneration is one of the body’s own natural miracles, and if we can discover how to harness this regenerative power elsewhere in the body, it could transform the way medicine is practiced.”

Fox received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He did post-graduate training at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York; the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School.

He was a transplant fellow at Pitt’s School of Medicine under transplantation pioneer Thomas E. Starzl. Fox also has an appointment as an associate member of UPMC’s Starzl Transplantation Institute, where he is collaborating with colleagues who are working on translating cellular xenotransplantation to the clinic.

Prior to joining the University of Nebraska, Fox was an assistant professor of surgery at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the medical school, said, “Ira Fox is recognized as a research pioneer with exceptional leadership skills. In the lab, his achievements are innovative, and he is known for his strong commitment to translational medicine.”


Jeffrey L. Brodsky has assumed the position of acting chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. Brodsky holds the Avinoff Chair in Biological Sciences and has been a member of the department since 1994.

He is replacing Graham Hatfull, who is on sabbatical leave this fall. Hatfull will return as chair in the spring term.

Also in spring, Craig Peebles, professor of biochemistry, will assume the title of associate chair of the department.


Steve Weber, professor of bioanalytical chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, has won the 2008 American Chemical Society (ACS) Pittsburgh Award.

The Pittsburgh Award was established in 1932 by the Pittsburgh section of ACS to recognize outstanding leadership in chemical affairs in the local and larger professional community. The award symbolizes the honor and appreciation accorded to those who have rendered distinguished service to the field of chemistry.


James M. Roberts, professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the School of Medicine, will receive the Hope Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Preeclampsia Foundation for his contributions to preeclampsia research.

The pregnancy disorder, also known as toxemia, is characterized by dangerously high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. It affects about 5 percent of first pregnancies and is a significant cause of infant mortality.

According to the foundation, Roberts, who also is senior scientist and founding director of the Magee-Womens Research Institute, has championed the “two-stage” hypothesis, suggesting that preeclampsia is the result of a unique interaction of co-existing maternal and placental conditions.

In addition, Roberts led an NIH trial of 10,000 women using antioxidant vitamins to prevent preeclampsia.

Currently, he is investigating the role that obesity plays in the development of the condition.

Roberts is a member of the Preeclampsia Foundation’s medical board. He also is a member of numerous professional societies, having served as the president of the Perinatal Research Society Council, the Society for Gynecological Investigation, the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy and the North American Society of the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy.

His honors include honorary membership in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and selection to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Roberts will receive the lifetime achievement award in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20. He is only the second person in the award’s history to receive the tribute.


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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