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New investigator: John Dickinson, MD, PhD

Image with caption: John Dickinson, MD

John Dickinson, MD

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony on Feb. 24 for UNMC's 2021 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist, New Investigator and Community Service to Research Award recipients.

The New Investigator Award

The New Investigator Award is given to outstanding UNMC scientists who, in the past two years, have secured their first funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense or other national sources. New Investigator Award recipients also need to demonstrate scholarly activity, such as publishing their research and/or presenting their findings at national conventions.

  • Name: John Dickinson, MD 
  • Title: Assistant professor, UNMC Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine 
  • Joined UNMC: 2014 
  • Hometown:  Yankton, South Dakota

Research focus: Airway disease exacerbations 

Why is research important in the world today? In the last 20 years, scientists have discovered how changes to the human airway in the lungs develop with time leading to exacerbations in symptoms for those suffering with asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). However, less is known how these exacerbations resolve. Our recent findings identify a mechanism by which airway epithelial cells eliminate excess mucin granules through the protein degradation pathway of autophagy. We also identified therapeutic approaches to accelerate this pathway of mucin degradation. We propose this is a novel approach to shorten the recovery time for patients who experience an exacerbation of their underlying asthma or COPD.  

My research will make a difference because: COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. New approaches are needed to improve outcomes in this disease.  

The best advice I’ve ever received is:

My late father inspired with me his hard work and perseverance. I have tried to emulate my Dad’s work ethic every day as a physician and scientist.  

Three things you may not know about me are: 

  • I enjoy trail running and completed a 50K event in 2018.  
  • My wife homeschools our five children. I help with the science lessons.  
  • I hate jigsaw puzzles. Please never gift me one.  

Ceremony set for Feb. 24

The 2021 Scientist Laureate and Research Awards ceremony will be held virtually on Feb. 24 at 4:30 p.m.

Andre Kalil, MD, professor in the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine, has been named the 16th UNMC Scientist Laureate. Dr. Kalil will be honored, along with 25 other researchers recently named UNMC Distinguished Scientist, Research Leadership and New Investigator Award winners for 2021. The Community Service to Research Award winner, who also will be honored, will be named in February.

See UNMC's 2021 honorees online.

Other research awardees include:

Research Leadership:

  • Risto Rautiainen, PhD, UNMC College of Public Health
  • Polina Shcherbakova, PhD, Eppley Institute

Distinguished Scientists:

  • Laura Bilek, PhD, UNMC College of Allied Health Professions
  • Rebekah Gundry, PhD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Peter Mannon, MD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Roslyn Mannon, MD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Russell McCulloh, MD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • DJ Murry, PharmD, UNMC College of Pharmacy
  • Aimin Peng, PhD, UNMC College of Dentistry
  • Moorthy Ponnusamy, PhD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Prakash Radhakrishnan, PhD, Eppley Institute
  • Joshua Santarpia, PhD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Paul Trippier, PhD, UNMC College of Pharmacy
  • Matthew Zimmerman, PhD, UNMC College of Medicine

New Investigators:

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