Dr. Gendelman named 2008 Scientist Laureate

by Chuck Brown, UNMC public affairs | February 09, 2009

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Howard Gendelman, M.D.
Howard Gendelman, M.D., professor and chairman of the department of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience (PEN), has been selected as the third UNMC Scientist Laureate for his outstanding work in battling neurodegenerative and infectious diseases.

Scientist Laureate is the highest recognition given to a UNMC investigator.

Dr. Gendelman was honored along with 22 other researchers recently named UNMC Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator award winners for 2008. The scientists are recognized leaders in their fields and represent three UNMC colleges and the Eppley Institute.

"Each year, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to consider nominees for the UNMC Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator awards," said Tom Rosenquist, Ph.D., vice chancellor for research. "It is a rewarding exercise to review our corps of outstanding scientists and see their accomplishments. This year's class is typical: top researchers from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, publishing their work in the best journals and competing successfully at the highest levels for research grants.

"I salute especially Dr. Howard Gendelman. His high levels of energy, scientific brilliance and organizational skill have made him, his laboratory team and his academic department into a formidable set of world-class researchers. His selection as the 2008 Scientist Laureate is an appropriate recognition of his contribution to the success of the UNMC research enterprise."

"I salute especially Dr. Howard Gendelman. His high levels of energy, scientific brilliance and organizational skill have made him, his laboratory team and his academic department into a formidable set of world-class researchers."

Tom Rosenquist, Ph.D.

The Distinguished Scientist award -- which is sponsored by the chancellor -- recognizes UNMC researchers who have been among the most productive scientists in the country during the past five years.

The award recipients were selected by a panel composed of all UNMC deans and directors, as well as the office of the vice chancellor for research.

Both the 2008 Distinguished Scientists and New Investigators receive a merit-based salary supplement of $10,000. Dr. Gendelman will receive a $20,000 supplement for being named scientist laureate. UNMC will host an event on March 16 to publicly recognize the honorees and their research accomplishments.

The first UNMC Scientist Laureate award was given in 2006 to Stephen Rennard, M.D., Larson Professor of Medicine in pulmonary and critical care in internal medicine and courtesy professor of pathology and microbiology. The second award was given in 2007 to Irving Zucker, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the cellular and integrative physiology department in the UNMC College of Medicine.

Dr. Gendelman received his medical degree from Penn State University in 1979, which he followed by doing back-to-back research fellowships for three years each at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and the National Institutes of Health.

This postdoctoral training helped him realize that research would be a main emphasis in his career. During this time, Dr. Gendelman also started work on the immune aspects of the brain, which he still pursues at UNMC.

Award Criteria

Criteria for the Distinguished Scientist award include the researcher's history of leading an outstanding research program, publishing research results in journals of the highest quality, and showing the ability to attract and retain extramural funding.

The New Investigator awards are given to outstanding UNMC scientists who in the past one to three years have secured their first federal funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense or other federal sources.

The New Investigator award recipients also had to demonstrate scholarly activity such as publishing their research and/or presenting their findings at national conventions and gatherings.

In his research, Dr. Gendelman and his team have helped change the way the health care community views the role of the immune system on brain health and disease. His work has focused on several diseases including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and HIV.

Dr. Gendelman joined the UNMC faculty in 1993 and in 2004 was named the founding chairman of the PEN department. Since then, he has led the department through immense success in terms of research findings, publication and funding.

Last year alone, the department brought in more than $12 million in funds from the National Institutes of Health, the largest chunk of this coming from a $5.8 million program project grant led by Dr. Gendelman that is aimed at studying therapeutic immune-based strategies for improved drug delivery to the brain.

The 2008 Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator award winners are (* denotes New Investigator award recipient):

College of Dentistry

  • Ali Nawshad, Ph.D. *

College of Pharmacy

  • Yuri Lyubchenko, Ph.D.
  • Jonathan Vennerstrom, Ph.D.
  • Dong Wang, Ph.D. *

College of Medicine

  • Vimla Band, Ph.D.
  • Bernard (Timothy) Baxter, M.D.
  • Ken Bayles, Ph.D.
  • William Burke, M.D.
  • Howard Gendelman, M.D.
  • James Haorah, Ph.D.*
  • Daniel Monaghan, Ph.D.
  • Robert Norgren, Ph.D.
  • Dmitry Oleynikov, M.D. *
  • Larisa Poluektova, M.D., Ph.D. *
  • Tom Porter, M.D.
  • Steven Claude Sansom, Ph.D.
  • Dhirendra Singh, Ph.D.
  • Julie Vose, M.D.
  • Dennis Weisenburger, M.D.
  • Jialin Zheng, M.D.

Eppley Institute

  • Hamid Band, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Michael Brattain, Ph.D.
  • Simon Sherman, Ph.D.