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April 2, 2009

National Medal of Science winner/alum to address commencement

Alumnus Bert W. O’Malley, a National Medal of Science honoree and researcher in the field of biological sciences, will speak at Pitt’s 2009 commencement.

The ceremony, at which O’Malley will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree, will begin at 1 p.m. April 26 in the Petersen Events Center.

O’Malley holds the Thomas C. Thompson Chair in Cell Biology and is chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He also directs the medical school’s Center for Reproductive Biology and is associate director for basic science in its Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center.

O’Malley earned a bachelor’s degree from Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences in 1959 and a Doctor of Medicine degree at Pitt in 1963.

Often referred to as the “father of endocrinology,” O’Malley is credited with path-breaking insights into the function of hormones in normal development and disease states.

His lab discoveries are being applied clinically to understand fertility regulation and reproductive tissue differentiation, as well as predispositions to reproductive cancers. He also initiated what now is called “team science” and has trained more than 250 students and postdoctoral fellows in his lab.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg stated, “Building from the foundation of his University of Pittsburgh education, which included both his undergraduate and his medical school years, Bert O’Malley has earned a reputation as one of the world’s best-known and most-respected scientists. He has made significant contributions to our understandings of endocrinology, reproduction, genetic disease and cancer. … It is a real privilege to invite him back to campus as our commencement speaker.”

At a White House ceremony on Sept. 29, 2008, O’Malley received the 2007 National Medal of Science from former President George W. Bush. Administered by the National Science Foundation, the medal is the nation’s highest honor for science and engineering.

O’Malley has served as president of the Endocrine Society and was instrumental in establishing the journal Molecular Endocrinology, one of the most-cited peer-reviewed biomedical science journals. He has written more than 600 scientific and medical publications and holds 19 patents for special techniques and inventions related to molecular and cellular biology.

Pitt has honored O’Malley with the Dickson Prize in Medicine, the Philip S. Hench Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Bicentennial Medallion of Distinction.

O’Malley has received numerous other honors, including the Academia Nazionale dei Lincei Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize for Biology and the Brinker International Award for Breast Cancer Research. He also has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.

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