Hero Awards augment annual research excellence honors
Published on Monday, October 5, 2020
By: Karen Bascom
The University of Mississippi Medical Center recognized the following faculty, staff and students during the 2020 Excellence in Research Awards.
Usually, the Office of Research hosts a ceremony honoring the awardees. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they shifted to a video format, distributed through the Medical Center’s research listserv.
“COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to recognize the recipients of this year’s awards in new and innovative ways,” said. Dr. Richard Summers, associate vice chancellor for research.
Summers praised the “innovation” and “flexibility” demonstrated across campus in 2020.
“I have never been more proud of the research community here at UMMC,” he said.
The medallions are based on the cumulative amount of extramural funding received for an investigator’s original research. This year, the Office of Research also granted COVID-19 Research Hero Awards, recognizing the unique contributions of faculty, staff and students during the pandemic.
UMMC received near-record levels of funding and the most individual grants and awards in its history in fiscal year 2020, despite the challenges of the past several months.
“In a time of great uncertainty, our scientists have stepped up to ensure Mississippians are taken care of during this pandemic and has shown the importance of a strong research mission to an academic medical center,” Summers said.
Platinum Medallion – $5,000,000 total
Dr. Michael Garrett, professor of pharmacology and toxicology
Garrett studies the genetics of complex yet common diseases, such as kidney disease, hypertension and diabetes, in order to find new targets for future drug treatments. He also leads UMMC’s Molecular and Genomics Core Facility.
Dr. Celso Gomez-Sanchez, professor of pharmacology and toxicology
Gomez-Sanchez studies primary aldosteronism, a common cause of hypertension. Last year, he licensed a series of monoclonal antibodies he developed for diagnosing this condition to a biotechnology company.
Dr. Jason Griggs, associate dean for research, School of Dentistry
Professor and former chair of the Department of Biomedical Materials Science, Griggs studies the breakage patterns in ceramic and metallic dental implants to find new ways to construct these materials.
Dr. Michael Ryan, professor of physiology and biophysics
Ryan studies hypertension, kidney and vascular disease in conditions such as lupus and preeclampsia. An associate dean for student affairs in the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences, he also leads programs training young investigators in cardiorenal diseases.
Dr. Richard Summers, associate vice chancellor for research
Summers leads UMMC’s research and extramural funding efforts, including clinical and translational research and telehealth applications. Professor and former chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, he has studied cardiovascular disease in that field and mathematical models of physiology.
Gold Medallion – $1,000,000 total
Dr. Denise Cornelius, assistant professor of emergency medicine
Dr. Sally Huskinson, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior
Dr. Seth Lirette, assistant professor of data science
Dr. Jose Miguel-Hidalgo, professor of psychiatry and human behavior
Dr. Aimee Parnell, associate professor of pediatrics-cardiology
Dr. Rob Rockhold, deputy chief academic officer
Dr. Damian Romero, professor of cell and molecular biology
Dr. Kedra Wallace, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology
Dr. Junie Paula Warrington, assistant professor of neurology
Silver Medallion – $500,000 total
Dr. Yingjie Chen, professor of physiology and biophysics
Dr. Caroline Compretta, assistant professor of preventive medicine
Dr. Sarah Glover, professor of medicine-digestive diseases
Dr. Ritesh Tandon, associate professor of microbiology and immunology
Dr. Zhen Wang, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics
Bronze Medallion – $250,000 total
Dr. Yuanyuan Duan, associate professor of biomedical materials science
Dr. Barbara Gisabella, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences
Dr. William Hillegass, associate professor of data science
Dr. Erin Taylor, instructor of physiology and biophysics
Dr. Jorge Vidal, associate professor of microbiology and immunology
COVID-19 Research Hero Awards
Informatics: Creation of a COVID-19 registry
Krishna Ayyalasomayajula, research informatics analyst
Fremel Backus, intelligence program manager
Alex Castillo, executive director of informatics and analytics
Ashish Jannela, research informatics analyst
Ramona Sandlin, manager of enterprise information and honest brokers
Innovation: Design of an emergency use ventilator
Dr. Charles Robertson, associate professor of anesthesiology
Clinical trials: Leading the initiation and management of COVID-19 trials
Dr. Gailen Marshall, professor of medicine and R. Faser Triplett Chair of Allergy and Immunology
Testing: Internal COVID-19 testing and validation
Dr. John Bates, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology
Dr. Sarika Jain, assistant professor of pathology
Dr. Patrick Kyle, professor of pathology
Internal COVID-19 test kit assembly and volunteering on the front lines
View the video slideshows here.