September 11, 2013

Founders Week award winners

Dear University Community,

As you know, Founders Week is a special time each year when we revisit the University's history and look ahead to the next challenges and opportunities on the horizon. Recognizing outstanding accomplishments among our talented faculty and staff is part of the annual celebration. It is in that vein that I am pleased to inform you of the winners of our 2013 Founders Week awards:

Entrepreneur of the Year

Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD '83, BCPS, CDE, FAPhA

School of Pharmacy

Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science

Director, Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions (CIPS)

As a "social entrepreneur," Dr. Rodriguez de Bittner works to improve patient care by translating research findings and innovation into highly practical standards of care currently being used by employers and patients across the U.S. Under her direction, the School of Pharmacy's CIPS has become a national resource center in developing innovative patient care and business solutions to health problems.

CIPS captures the intellectual contributions and skills of pharmacists as they create pharmacist-directed patient care models that improve clinical outcomes, ensure medication adherence, and reduce health care costs.

In order to translate CIPS business solutions into the marketplace, Dr. Rodriguez de Bittner helped launch a number of patient care programs and the award-winning Maryland Patients, Pharmacists, Partnerships (P3) Program, through which specially trained pharmacist-coaches offer step-by-step guidance in medication therapy management, lifestyle changes, and self-care skills to employees of self-insured employers. The P3 Program began in 2006 with one employer in Western Maryland and now serves hundreds of patients in the U.S.

Public Servant of the Year

Brenda Ali

School of Medicine

Institute for Genome Sciences

In addition to juggling myriad tasks as office manager for Claire Fraser, PhD, director of the School of Medicine's Institute for Genome Sciences, Ms. Ali finds the time to devote countless hours as a volunteer.   

For years, she has been making a difference to the students and parents of, not to mention the neighborhood surrounding, James McHenry Elementary/Middle School, which is just blocks from the BioPark. With her enthusiastic year-round leadership, Ms. Ali has organized numerous events, including an annual Halloween haunted house celebration that last October grew into a "Spooktacular" science learning program for James McHenry's middle school students.

She has contacted office supply vendors and book publishers for donations, organized BioPark volunteers, led reading programs as well as coat, book, and school supply drives, coordinated a fitness fair, and bravely trekked into a closed UMB campus during Hurricane Sandy to coordinate final preparations to ensure a James McHenry event would occur as planned - and without a hitch.

Researcher of the Year

W. Jonathan Lederer, MD, PhD

School of Medicine

Professor, Department of Physiology

Director, Center for Biomedical Engineering and Technology (BioMET)

Dr. Lederer has an outstanding record of ground-breaking observations on ion channels and calcium signaling in the heart that have significantly changed our understanding of both normal cardiac function and how it becomes dysfunctional in cardiac disease.

He has an outstanding record of research accomplishment, publishing 225 papers, including 19 in the prestigious journals Science and Nature. The research generated by Dr. Lederer and his BioMET lab partners is characterized not only by quantity, but, more importantly, in its quality.

His work has achieved the highest possible prominence in the research community, garnering 16,000-plus citations from his peers. Among many advances working at the interface between basic and translational science, he was a pioneer in determining how excitation-contraction coupling in heart muscle fibers works at a fundamental cellular/molecular level. This work provides the critical understanding necessary to now establish the biological bases of various forms of cardiac pathology.

Teacher of the Year

Paula Monopoli, JD, Francis King Carey School of Law

Professor of Law

Founding Director, Women Leadership & Equality Program

Professor Monopoli is a superb teacher, dedicated mentor, imaginative leader, and nationally recognized scholar. Her student evaluations have been among the highest of her faculty peers in her 12 years at the law school and several times students have voted her Faculty Member of the Year, most recently in May 2013.

She is able to take a challenging field - for instance, property and estates and trusts - and develop rigorous analytical skills in her students.

In 2003, with a $250,000 grant from the Marjorie Cook Foundation, she launched the Women Leadership & Equality Program - the first in an American law school. From 2008 to 2012, Professor Monopoli directed the scholarship and curriculum component of the $1.6 million LEAD: Leadership, Ethics, and Democracy grant from the Fetzer Institute.

She is the author/editor of three books and numerous articles and is invited to present her research at law schools in the U.S. and abroad.  Additionally, Professor Monopoli is an elected member of the American Law Institute and she held the Marbury Research Professorship from 2008 to 2011.

We have so many remarkable people at UMB doing a lot of remarkable things, and I'm pleased we have Founders Week as a vehicle for showcasing these achievements. Congratulations to our four winners! For more on the Founders Week events, leading up to the awards presentation at the Founders Gala on Oct. 17, visit The Elm and Founders Week websites.


Jay A. Perman, MD