Dr. Leuschen to lead the SAHP's research efforts

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public affairs | September 14, 2007

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M. Patricia Leuschen, Ph.D.
M. Patricia Leuschen, Ph.D., has been named the inaugural assistant dean for research development in the School of Allied Health Professions (SAHP), effective Sept. 1.

The newly created leadership position is designed to assist faculty in increasing scholarship, developing sustainable research agendas and expanding external funding opportunities.

"The primary emphasis in the School of Allied Health Professions has long been on the educational mission," said Kyle Meyer, Ph.D., associate dean for UNMC's School of Allied Health Professions. "We have experienced considerable success relative to preparing outstanding health care practitioners, but we also need to build an allied health research agenda. By adding this new position, the SAHP is developing a formal administrative infrastructure to support an increased emphasis on research development and productivity. Dr. Leuschen is a perfect match for the needs of the SAHP, given her years of experience as a researcher, mentor and chair of the Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area (MSIA) Graduate Program."

As assistant dean for research development, Dr. Leuschen will be responsible for providing administrative oversight for all activities pertaining to the research enterprise of the SAHP, and for developing and implementing strategic initiatives to promote and sustain a culture of scholarship and research productivity within the SAHP.

"This new position, and the appointment of Dr. Leuschen, is certain to elevate the SAHP's research contributions to the College of Medicine and UNMC," said John Gollan, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the College of Medicine. "The SAHP has talented and creative faculty who will greatly benefit from this new infrastructure development and are poised to contribute greatly to UNMC's growing research enterprise."

Dr. Leuschen will continue to serve as an associate professor in four departments, coordinator for graduate studies and chairwoman of the MSIA graduate program, a post she's held since 1989.

She has long been recognized for her skill as a research mentor and, in 2005, received the inaugural UNMC Outstanding Mentor of Graduate Students Award.

"SAHP faculty are engaged in research, however, many have collaborated or played a role in other research protocols; rarely have they been the principal investigators or the ones to initiate the research," Dr. Leuschen said. "That's something we hope to change."

Eager to help the SAHP boost its clinical and translational research, Dr. Leuschen plans to meet with faculty to better understand their backgrounds and identify groups that might lend themselves to successful collaborations. "There's a certain mentoring knowledge base from serving as chair of the MSIA program that will be useful for the School of Allied Health Professions," she said.

Dr. Leuschen's own research involves the blood brain barrier and neural development in premature infants, as well as neuroimmunology and translational research on multiple sclerosis. She taught a graduate course in cell culture for more than 25 years and currently teaches human anatomy or neuroanatomy to four different groups of students in the SAHP.

Dr. Leushen joins an expanding leadership team in the SAHP. Within the past year, Dr. Meyer has broadened this team and appointed Jan Tompkins, director of the SAHP distance education office; and Greg Karst, Ph.D., assistant dean for academic affairs.

Meanwhile, Dr. Leuschen is looking forward to her new charge, noting it wasn't a difficult sell. "It's unbelievable how fast I said 'that sounds like fun.' "