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Letters to the UMB Community
Founders Week Award Winners
To the UMB Community:
Every fall, we dedicate one week to commemorating UMB's rich history and to celebrating the future we're building together. Among the highlights of Founders Week is recognizing the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff. Four awards are given every year, each signifying outstanding accomplishment in one facet of our mission. I'm delighted to announce the recipients of our 2017 Founders Week Awards.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Bartley P. Griffith, MD
School of Medicine
Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor in Transplant Surgery
Founder, Breethe, Inc.
A world-renowned heart and lung transplant surgeon, Dr. Griffith struggled for decades to develop an artificial lung - one that wouldn't tie patients to a breathing machine in a hospital bed.
After 20 years, he achieved his goal, creating a portable, at-home device for artificial respiration.
To market this technology, which should help hundreds of thousands of patients each year, Dr. Griffith in 2014 worked with UM Ventures, the University of Maryland, Baltimore's commercialization arm, to found the company Breethe, Inc.
Based at the BioPark, Breethe, Inc. is deep into product development, funded to date through three rounds of equity capital with Dr. Griffith playing an active role.
Dr. Griffith, who came to the School of Medicine in 2001, has performed more than 1,250 heart transplants and nearly 700 lung transplants.
In 2010, when he was named UMB's Researcher of the Year, Dr. Griffith was credited with having "the most heavily funded cardiac surgery program in the United States" with $25 million the previous decade.
In addition to his lung breakthroughs, Griffith was one of the early surgeons to implant a Jarvik heart, and he developed a pediatric heart pump.
Previously chief of cardiac surgery at the School of Medicine, Dr. Griffith recently raised funding to endow a joint chair between the SOM Department of Surgery and the Department of Bioengineering in College Park. The chair helps to create new medical devices.
Public Servant of the Year
Susan M. Antol, PhD, RN
School of Nursing
Assistant professor, Department of Partnerships, Professional Education and Practice
Director, Wellmobile and School-Based Programs
During the past 19 years at the School of Nursing, Dr. Antol has developed innovative approaches for meeting the needs of underserved individuals throughout the state. Applying her community health nursing expertise, her organizational skills, and her perseverance, she has brought health care services to at-risk children, the homeless, immigrants, migrant workers, veterans, and victims of human trafficking.
She has led nurse-managed school-based programs providing direct care to children and has served on key statewide committees such as the Maryland Assembly on School-Based Health Care and the Governor's School-Based Health Center Policy Advisory Council.
As director of the Governor's Wellmobile Program since 2009, Dr. Antol has overseen nurse-managed primary care services in underserved areas ranging from Maryland's Eastern Shore to Prince George's and Montgomery counties and Western Maryland. When Wellmobile funding was cut in half in fiscal year 2010, she pursued grants and partnerships, securing three years of funding from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and in 2017 partnered with other University schools in a $1.2 million grant from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission.
An advocate for interprofessional practice, she received $1.04 million in 2015 in Health Resources and Services Administration funding to expand the Wellmobile's interprofessional practice. In collaboration with the schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Social Work, Dr. Antol and her team have implemented an interprofessional practice that serves as a clinical education site and is examining new methods of providing care through the Wellmobile.
Researcher of the Year
Robert K. Ernst, PhD
School of Dentistry
Professor, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis
Dr. Ernst and his colleagues are engineering rationally designed mimetics based on bacterial surface molecules that will inhibit the body's immune response to sepsis, a condition that causes a death every two minutes in the U.S.
In particular, he is at the forefront of innovative research studying the molecular basis by which bacteria modify the lipid component of their membrane, specifically lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and how these alterations affect or circumvent normal host innate immune system responses, potentially resulting in septic shock. Additionally, these modifications can promote resistance to host innate immune-killing mechanisms by antimicrobial compounds.
Therefore, altering the biosynthesis of LPS can render the bacteria more susceptible to host cell killing and/or antimicrobial intervention and serve as novel components or adjuvants required for the development of more effective vaccines.
The work of Dr. Ernst, a member of the School of Dentistry faculty since 2008, has attracted ongoing funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), MedImmune, as well as University of Maryland Ventures Seed Grant Funding and the state of Maryland Technology Development Corporation.
An advocate of interprofessional research, he has four colleagues from the School of Pharmacy on the NIH sepsis proposal. One of them, David Goodlett, PhD, co-founded a startup diagnostic company with Dr. Ernst called Pataigin. Its patented test "BACLIB" inexpensively identifies bacteria- and fungi-caused infections in less than an hour.
Teacher of the Year
Fadia Tohme Shaya, PhD, MPH
School of Pharmacy
Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
Dr. Shaya leads by example and is an inspirational educator, teacher, and mentor to predoctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty.
She engages her students in research very early on, and includes them in publications. Under her mentorship, her trainees have been awarded prestigious research and training grants. Her courses - Medication Safety, Drug Abuse in the Community, and Formulary Management - are highly sought after and often referenced by graduates as among their most influential. Fluent in five languages (including her native French and Arabic), Dr. Shaya has trained visiting scholars from many countries, including Armenia, France, Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey, and is a popular guest speaker, nationally and internationally.
Along with her School of Pharmacy appointments, she is on the School of Medicine faculty (Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine), director of the Behavioral Health Research and Policy Program, associate director of the Center on Drugs and Public Policy, and adjunct faculty at the American University of Beirut.
Committed to interprofessional education (IPE), she organized an inter-school IPE program on training students to counter the opioid epidemic and how to administer naloxone.
Dr. Shaya also has supported the training of minority students and junior faculty, under the NIH minority supplement mechanism. She serves as a mentor to inner city high school students through the UMB Bioscience Summer Program.
As vice chair for Academic Affairs, Dr. Shaya has helped introduce population health and health services research-based courses in the PharmD curriculum and expand dual-degree options for pharmacy students.
I'm so grateful we have Founders Week to showcase these remarkable colleagues and their remarkable achievements. I offer each winner my heartfelt thanks and congratulations.
For more on the Founders Week events, including the awards presentation at the Founders Gala on Saturday, Oct. 14, visit The Elm and Founders Week websites in the weeks to come.
Jay A. Perman, MD