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UMMC faculty shine in national spotlight

Published on Monday, March 18, 2024

By: Patrice Guilfoyle,

Medical Center faculty and staff often are recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for their academic or medical achievements. These accolades place UMMC among health science centers worldwide.

Williams featured on The Physiologist Magazine cover

Williams was the “perfect choice” for the cover story, said the magazine’s editor-in-chief.  

Dr. Jan Williams, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, is featured on the cover of the March issue of The Physiologist Magazine, a publication of the American Physiological Society.

In the article, “Beauty in the Simplicity,” Williams recounts how frequent moves during his childhood as an “Army brat” helped nurture an adaptability and resilience that he credits, in part, for his career trajectory. He also opened up about an acute kidney injury he developed during his senior year of college, which resulted in a two-week hospital stay and the threat of dialysis, and how it piqued his interest in renal physiology.

As director of the experimental therapeutics and pharmacology PhD program, Williams focuses his research on renal disease associated with childhood obesity, with an emphasis on how obesity and kidney disease intersect in pre-pubertal children.

“Being featured in The Physiologist Magazine is an incredible honor and a validation of one's hard work and achievements,” said Williams. “However, it is not just a personal achievement but also represents everyone who contributed to my career, including my advisors, mentors, trainees and colleagues. Without them, this would not have been possible.”

APS, a 10,000-member organization, publishes 16 respected scientific journals that highlight scientific discoveries in physiology and related disciplines. Its members are at the forefront of solving some of the world’s most complex health challenges, and Williams is no exception, said Meeghan De Cagna, APS chief community and learning officer and editor-in-chief.

“As an active and engaged leader of APS, we chose to highlight Dr. Williams because not only is he working to move APS forward, but his extensive research is shedding light on critical issues like the physiological relationship between childhood obesity and renal disease,” said De Cagna. “We think he is the perfect cover choice, and we are honored he agreed to participate.”

Dr. Babbette LaMarca, chair of pharmacology and toxicology, is proud to both have Williams represent the department for the cover story, and as leader of the graduate program.

“Dr. Williams is an excellent renal physiologist dedicated to effectively educating not only in the classroom but at the bench, the next generation of physicians and researchers to be the absolute best at understanding pathology and treating renal diseases,” she said. “He is calm, cool-headed, and collected and is an outstanding role model for all of our students.”

In the article, the self-described introvert offered advice to fellow scientists who struggle with networking, telling them to be bold by initiating conversations with those they might be hesitant to approach.

“My hope is that this spotlight will serve as a catalyst for aspiring scientists from all backgrounds, igniting their passion for inquiry and discovery,” he said.

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Crowder elected to national ophthalmology board

Portrait of Dr. Kimberly Crowder

Dr. Kimberly Crowder, professor and Drs. C.J. and Lin Chen Endowed Chair for Excellence in Ophthalmology, has been elected to the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO) Board of Trustees Council in its 2024 elections. Her term begins April 1.

The Association is a national organization for academic ophthalmology with a mission of championing an inclusive academic ophthalmology community to promote and advocate for excellence and equity in ophthalmic education, professional development, research and clinical care.

“I am honored to be elected to this position and look forward to serving all of academic ophthalmology in this role,” Crowder said.  “I am thankful to the past and present leadership at UMMC and to the ophthalmology faculty and department team for their trust in me to lead ophthalmology at UMMC. Finally, I am grateful to my former mentor and chair, Dr. C. J. Chen, for guiding me down this path of academic leadership.”

Crowder, a 1999 graduate of the UMMC School of Medicine, became department chair in 2015. After completing her ophthalmology residency at UMMC in 2003, she immediately joined the department's faculty, serving for a time as the program director for ophthalmology residents.