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July 9, 2009


The Pew Charitable Trusts announced recently that Jon P. Boyle, assistant professor of biological sciences, has been selected as a 2009 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. Boyle is among 17 early-career scientists nationally to receive the award for showing promise in research relevant to the advancement of human health.

As a Pew Scholar, Boyle will receive a $240,000 award over four years to support his research.

Boyle investigates how virulence from a pathogen is determined not only by the host’s genetic factors, but more significantly by the genetic factors of the pathogen.


Stephen C. Strom, associate professor in Department of Pathology’s Division of Cellular and Molecular Pathology, has been chosen for a two-year term as president-elect of the Cell Transplantation Society, an international organization dedicated to promoting cell transplantation and regenerative medicine.

Research conducted in Strom’s laboratory focuses on liver disease, liver function and the treatment of defects in liver function by the transplantation of isolated hepatocytes (liver cells).


Three faculty members from the School of Nursing will be inducted as fellows into the American Academy of Nursing.

Catherine M. Bender, associate professor, Department of Health and Community Systems; Sandra J. Engberg, chair, Department of Health Promotion and Development, and Richard Henker, vice chair, Department of Acute and Tertiary Care, were selected by the academy for their outstanding achievements in the nursing profession.

Now 25 percent of Pitt School of Nursing faculty have fellow status.


Reinhard Heinisch, professor of political science at the Johnstown campus, has been named the recipient of the Pennsylvania Council on International Education (PaCIE) David A. Portlock Outstanding International Educator Award. The award is presented to international educators for ongoing mentoring of colleagues in the field, exemplary leadership in international education on their campuses and consistent contribution to the field as evidenced by presentations, papers, publications or other academic enterprises.

Heinisch directs Pitt-Johnstown’s international studies certificate and study abroad programs. Since 2002, he has led service-learning trips to rural Bolivia, where students engage in projects such as building orphanages and schools.

Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar said, “Under Dr. Heinisch’s leadership, Pitt-Johnstown has experienced tremendous growth in our international studies programs, and we are greatly expanding our global footprint.”

Heinisch teaches courses in comparative and international politics with an emphasis on Western Europe, the European Union and Latin America. He has conducted research on comparative labor market policies, political populism, the European Union and German politics. He has authored a book on political change in his native Austria, “Populism, Proporz, Pariah — Austria Turns Right.”

His professional activities include working for the U.S. State Department in briefing designated U.S. ambassadors prior to their congressional confirmation hearings, and as a regular commentator for Austrian National Television and print media. He directs an international annual Summer University in Austria dedicated to questions of economic innovation and competitiveness and also serves on the faculty and regional advisory boards of the European studies international studies certificate program.


Susan M. Isola is the new director of media relations at Pitt-Greensburg.

Isola comes to Pitt-Greensburg with nine years of experience as the director of public relations for the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill. Prior to that, she served more than 10 years as the assistant director of public information at Washington and Jefferson College.

Her experience includes working as a reporter/photographer for the Mount Pleasant Journal and marketing manager for Coast Publishing, a publisher of specialty business magazines for the print and publishing industry.

A 1983 graduate of Waynesburg University with a BS in small business management, Isola earned a master of arts degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill.

She also has completed coursework toward an MS in journalism at Ohio University.


At the June 5 research day, fellows of Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) and residents of Magee’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences showcased their work through oral and poster presentations.

During an awards ceremony, Raluca A. Budiu, postdoctoral associate, received the Paul M. Rike Fellowship Award, and Tracey Weissgerber, postdoctoral associate, received the Amy Roberts Health Promotions Research Award. The one-year awards provide funding for proposed research projects.

The Best Fellow Oral Presentation award went to Katherine P. Himes, clinical instructor, and the Best Fellow Poster Presentation award went to S. Katherine Laughon, clinical instructor.

Investigators and clinicians of MWRI and Magee voted on the awardees. Research day was developed to provide residents and fellows with an opportunity to present their research to faculty and staff from Pitt, MWRI and Magee.


Carrie Iwema, information specialist in molecular biology in the Health Sciences Library System, has been named chair of the Medical Library Association medical informatics section career development grant jury for 2009-10.


The School of Medicine recently announced new members of its Academy of Master Educators, which recognizes excellence in education and strives to advance education through innovation and professional development of faculty, as well as supports and promotes educational scholarship.

During the application process, potential members submit an educational portfolio to the Academy of Master Educators membership committee for review.

New members are: Steven Orebaugh, anesthesiology; Paul E. Phrampus, emergency medicine; Christine Milcarek, immunology; Diemthuy Bui, Peter D. Bulova, Hollis D. Day, Mark S. Roberts, Gary H. Tabas, Philip Troen, Asher A. Tulsky, Peter J. Veldkamp and Ora A. Weisz, medicine; Debra Bogen and Evelyn C. Reis, pediatrics; Joan M. Lakoski, pharmacology and chemical biology; Antoine Douaihy, psychiatry, and Kenneth Lee and James D. Luketich, surgery.


Yuting Zhang, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Graduate School of Public Health, has been awarded an Excellence in Mental Health Policy and Economics Research Award by the International Center of Mental Health Policy and Economics.

The award was for her article, “Cost-Saving Effects of Olanzapine as Long-Term Treatment for Bipolar Disorder,” which appeared in the Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics 2008.


G. Reynolds “Renny” Clark, vice chancellor for community initiatives and Chancellor’s office chief of staff, recently was presented with the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Westinghouse SURE (Service Uniting Retired Employees).

Clark joined Pitt’s staff in 2000 after a 34-year career with Westinghouse Electric Corp.

A 1965 graduate of Geneva College, Clark serves on his alma mater’s board of trustees. In 1990, he received Geneva’s Distinguished Service Award and recently co-chaired the school’s $25 million capital campaign.

Clark also serves on the advisory boards for the Salvation Army of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

He sits on the boards of a number of civic and cultural organizations, including Family House, the Greater Pittsburgh Council-Boy Scouts of America, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the Regional Industrial Development Corp., Allegheny Gateways and the United Way of Allegheny County.

Clark also chairs the Oakland Task Force and is vice chair of the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund, a local consortium of not-for-profit institutions and organizations.


Lewis Kuller, Distinguished University Professor of Public Health in the Department of Epidemiology, has been named a Distinguished Scientist by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. This designation honors AHA/ASA members whose work has advanced the understanding and management of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Kuller is nationally recognized for his contributions to the study of cardiovascular disease and the use of non-invasive techniques, such as ultrasound, to detect early heart disease in people without symptoms. He has spent 30 years studying risk factors for individuals with heart disease and women going through menopause.

In addition, as the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s cancer control and prevention program since 1990, he has spent many years studying prevention of cancer and cancer risks.


The School of Medicine’s Sharon Hillier this month received the Thomas Parran Award from the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association.

Hillier, vice chair for faculty affairs and director of reproductive infectious disease research in the Division of Reproductive Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, was honored for her contributions to the field of STD research and prevention.

The award is named for syphilis expert Thomas Parran Jr., who was the first dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health.

A microbiologist, Hillier is dedicated to finding practical, effective and safe strategies to prevent the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus, particularly in women. She is the principal investigator for the Microbicide Trials Network, an HIV/AIDS clinical trials network established in 2006 by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. She also is a senior investigator at Magee-Womens Research Institute.

Hillier’s research focuses on understanding both the preventive and causative roles that certain microorganisms in the vagina play with respect to genital tract infections, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV, and pre-term birth. She also studies the evaluation of vaginal microbicides for prevention of STIs in women.

Hillier is principal investigator of an NIH-funded grant looking at non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors as combination microbicides, and she is co-principal investigator of two prevention studies, one focused on Group B streptococcal disease and the other on infertility in women with subclinical pelvic inflammatory disease.


J. Wallis Marsh, professor of surgery at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, and Cathy Freehling, hepatology coordinator at the UPMC Center for Liver Disease, have been honored by the Allegheny division of the American Liver Foundation for their commitment to liver health and disease prevention.

They are among four honorees who received the Tribute to Excellence Award given to individuals who and organizations that demonstrate the highest level of dedication to the American Liver Foundation through advocacy and education.

Marsh has performed approximately 1,000 liver transplants and related surgeries. He also is involved in the development of models to predict progression of liver cancers with the use of automated technology.

Freehling is a volunteer for the American Liver Foundation. She has been the chairperson for the Liver Life Walk kick-off event and involved with the Liver Life Walk for the past four years.


Anne Van Cott, assistant professor of neurology, has been named the 2009 Outstanding Professional Employee (Medical/Scientific) Bronze Award recipient in the Excellence in Government awards program sponsored by the Pittsburgh Federal Executive Board.

In March Van Cott was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology in recognition of her research and educational contributions to the field of epilepsy and the neurology community.


Also in neurology, Melanie Mielo, practice coordinator, has been selected as a 2009 winner of the Robert Mientus Award for Staff Excellence in Service to the UPMC Physician Services Division, the highest award the PSD grants for service to the division.

Margie O’Leary of the MS Division has been selected as the 2009 Physician Services Division Award for Staff Excellence in Service to the Community, the highest award that PSD grants to staff members in recognition of community service.

Mielo and O’Leary will be honored at a reception in August and will have their names added to a permanent plaque in the PSD’s corporate offices.


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

We welcome submissions from all areas of the University. Send information via email to:, by fax at 412/624-4579 or by campus mail to 308 Bellefield Hall.

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