Four GMS Faculty Members Promoted to Professor

Join us in celebrating the following Graduate Medical Sciences faculty, who have been promoted to the rank of Professor:

Rachel Fearns

Rachel Fearns, PhD, MED, Microbiology, is a virologist known for her work in the field of non-segmented, negative sense RNA viruses, specifically in dissecting the molecular mechanisms by which the viral genome is transcribed and replicated by the viral polymerase. Her expertise has been sought after to write definitive reviews on viral polymerases and transcription/ replication mechanisms, acknowledging her recognition as a leader in the field. In addition, she is sought out by grant review committees, both nationally and internationally, and she currently is a standing member of a NIH grant study section. She has been a member of various journal editorial boards, and currently serves as a review editor for PLoS Pathogens. She has maintained consistent funding from the NIH, various pharmaceutical companies, and private foundations.

Ronald Killiany

Ronald Killiany, PhD, MED, Anatomy & Neurobiology, is a clinician-scientist with advanced clinical training in neuropsychology and an expert in the field of aging, Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease related disorders. A bulk of his research has been in the use of advanced brain imaging to study normal aging and neurodegenerative diseases. His group was among the first to use magnetic resonance imaging measures of the hippocampus to distinguish individuals with Alzheimer’s disease from age-matched healthy control subjects and subsequently they showed that entorhinal cortex MRI measures identify individuals with prodromal Alzheimer’s disease and those at increased risk of conversion to Alzheimer’s disease. He is the co-developer of the Desikan-Killiany MRI Atlas and the Desikan-Killiany-Tourville Atlas included in the Freesurfer, brain analysis software package. This atlas has become one of the most widely used by researchers around the world for defining cortical brain structures on MRI scans. He was asked by his national colleagues to help with the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative when it began in 2004 and he continues to contribute to this initiative, which has fundamentally changed the way the Neuroimaging community interacts and, more broadly, set a new standard for data sharing.

Elke Mühlberger

Elke Mühlberger, PhD, MED, Microbiology, is a virologist who have contributed to our understanding of the filovirus family, including Ebola and Marburg viruses. Filoviruses cause a severe disease in humans with high case fatality rates and must be handled under biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) conditions. They belong to the group of non-segmented negative sense RNA viruses and have evolved a unique replication strategy. Dr. Mühlberger has established a reputation for innovation. She was one of the first to study the replication and transcription mechanisms of filoviruses and developed reverse genetics systems that allow for a detailed study of these processes. These systems are widely used in the field of filovirus research. She has since made numerous seminal discoveries, including dissecting the innate immune responses to these viruses, as well as identifying viral proteins that block them. Dr. Mühlberger has contributed significantly to our understanding of virus infection and replication in host cells, identifying the regulatory components on the viral genome that regulate viral replication and transcription, and elucidating the roles of the viral proteins involved in viral amplification and host responses. She has a strong focus on studying filovirus infection in disease-relevant human cells.

Gerald Denis

Gerald Denis, PhD, MED, Medicine and Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, focuses his research on obesity, inflammation and cancer. Dr. Denis was the first investigator to link the functions of BET bromodomain proteins to human cancer, in 1996. This field has grown from 16 papers at the time of his first report to 1775 papers to date. Many advances in breast and prostate cancer, tumor microenvironment and mechanisms of inflammation have depended on his insights, as described in 50 peer reviewed publications, most recently in cancer immunotherapy. His most innovative contribution has been to show how the BET bromodomain proteins, composed of BRD2, BRD3 and BRD4, drive tumor progression in obesity through inflammation in the microenvironment. He is investigating new small molecule inhibitors of these pathways, which hold pharmaceutical potential for cancer patients with co-morbid obesity and metabolic diseases. His national service includes many National Cancer Institute steering and peer review committees, and he has been continuously funded through the American Cancer Society and National Institutes of Health. He has held leadership positions in the Obesity Society and National Cancer Institute, and is a programmatic adviser to the American Association of Immunologists.

Congratulations to these wonderful faculty members! Read the full post here.