Dr. David Dzielak’s career path has zigged and zagged since he received his doctorate in pharmacology in 1982 from UMMC’s School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences.
For decades of achievement and his continuous contributions to the Graduate School, the former UMMC associate vice chancellor for research has been named the school’s 2014 Distinguished Alumnus. The honor was bestowed Oct. 24 during Research Day on the UMMC campus, a gathering of Graduate School students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty that serves as a venue for showcasing their research projects.
After becoming a faculty member in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Dzielak left academia in 1986 to work as a senior scientist in charge of cardiovascular pharmacology at a Columbus, Ohio, pharmaceutical laboratory. He was back at UMMC a year later to continue his career in academic medicine, rising through the teaching and administrative ranks to become executive director of research, then associate vice chancellor for research.
John Henry Dasinger, left, UMMC graduate assistant, explains his research project to Dr. Dzielak during the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Science Research Day.
Appointed in 2005 as associate vice chancellor for strategic research alliances, Dzielak is credited with helping to bring to UMMC more than $74 million in directed appropriations from Congress. And in 2012, his career took yet another turn when Gov. Phil Bryant named him executive director of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid.
“Without him, we would not have that beautiful building on campus,” Graduate School Dean Dr. Joey Granger said of the Arthur C. Guyton Laboratory Research Center, which was funded through federal dollars to enhance research infrastructure.
“One thing we’ve been advocating in graduate school is an alternate career track, and David is a perfect example of utilizing your skills to have a significant impact for the state of Mississippi,” Granger said.
Said Dzielak: “I don’t think I’ve ever been called distinguished in my life. It’s a great honor.”
His message to Graduate School students?
“Keep the alternate (career) pathways always open. My career has been ever-branching,” he said. “It’s been quite a ride, and I’m not done yet.”