2021 Distinguished University Professors

The title of Distinguished University Professor is the highest appointment bestowed on a faculty member at UMB. It is a recognition not just of excellence, but also of impact and significant contribution to the nominee’s field, knowledge, profession, and/or practice.


Louise S. Jenkins, PhD, RN, FAHA, ANEFLouise S. Jenkins, PhD, RN, FAHA, ANEF

Professor and Director, Teaching in Nursing and Health Professions Certificate Program
Director, Institute for Educators
University of Maryland School of Nursing


Louise Jenkins’ distinguished career in nursing spans 56 years, including the past 25 as a member of the School of Nursing (UMSON) faculty. She is a pioneer in the field of creating transformative and evidence-based learning experiences, initially for nursing students and subsequently for health professions and social service students.

Dr. Jenkins also has significantly shaped the professional development of nursing faculty. She co-developed and leads the Teaching in Nursing and Health Professions Certificate Program, in which graduate and postgraduate students take coursework to acquire essential skills for teaching. As founding director of the Institute for Educators, she has led its evolution into a comprehensive statewide resource that provides essential knowledge and skills to equip nurses for faculty roles.

In 2000, Jenkins and David Mallott, MD, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine opened the Clinical Education and Evaluation Standardized Patient Laboratory, a joint venture to expand on the previously limited use of standardized patients by both schools. Today, the renamed Standardized Patient Program annually has more than 13,000 learner contacts and 7,500 standardized patient encounters while employing about 120 standardized patients.

Jenkins was UMB’s Teacher of the Year in 2016, and she received a Wilson H. Elkins Professorship from the University System of Maryland in 2018. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Northern Illinois University and her master’s and PhD from UMSON.

James Kaper, PhD James Kaper, PhD

James & Carolyn Frenkil Distinguished Dean’s Professor
Chair, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Vice Dean for Academic Affairs
University of Maryland School of Medicine

James Kaper is an internationally recognized microbiologist who has pioneered the development of vaccines against bacterial infections affecting some of the world’s most disadvantaged populations. His lab developed the first genetically modified cholera vaccine, made by removing the gene for cholera toxin from the bacteria Vibrio cholerae. Cholera is a deadly health risk in the developing world, where access to clean drinking water is inconsistent.

Funded since 1982 by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Kaper’s research on the pathogenesis of enteric disease has contributed to six books, 68 book chapters, and more than 300 articles published in peer-reviewed journals.

He was recruited to the School of Medicine (UMSOM) by the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), and he credits CVD colleagues such as Myron Levine, MD, DTPH; Carol Tackett, MD; and Karen Kotloff, MD, for helping to get the cholera vaccine developed and licensed.

As chair of UMSOM’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Kaper has trained more than 60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the area of enteric pathogenesis, many of whom now hold leadership positions in preeminent academic institutions. As vice dean for academic affairs, he oversees the school’s academic programs.

Kaper, who earned an NIH Merit Award in 2004 and was a UMB Champion of Excellence in 2015, received his bachelor’s degree and PhD, both in microbiology, from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Division Head, Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine
University of Maryland School of Medicine

Karen Kotloff is a pediatric infectious disease specialist whose research focuses on the epidemiology of infectious diseases and their prevention with the use of vaccines in the United States and developing countries. She has served as principal investigator on some of the largest projects related to child health and mortality prevention.

Her research, which covers respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and enteric diseases such as rotavirus, Shigella, cholera, and typhoid, has been instrumental in helping to set prevention policy and creating a strong footing for vaccine development and distribution in low-resource global settings.

Dr. Kotloff, who was UMB’s Researcher of the Year in 2018, is best known for her research on diarrheal disease, the second-leading cause of death among children under 5 around the world. Using a unique case-control design, she showed Shigella species to be a leading cause of diarrhea morbidity and mortality in children.

Kotloff has spent her entire faculty career at the School of Medicine, starting in 1986, and serves as an advisor to the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration, and others. She also is a proud mentor of fellows and junior faculty members, including several who have developed their own successful independent research careers at the school.

Kotloff, who earned her medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine, is board-certified in pediatrics and pediatric infectious disease and cares for children with a wide range of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland Medical Center.


Professor, Department of Physiology
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Director, Center for Biomedical Engineering and Technology

As a principal investigator for over 35 years, William Lederer has led his research team to several key discoveries in calcium signaling, including the 1992 discovery of calcium sparks, the calcium signals in the heart that underlie all heart contractions, as well as all other muscles and excitable cells. Dr. Lederer’s discovery and subsequent study of calcium sparks led to the development of a new area of research in local signaling events.

Earlier in his career, while studying at Yale University, he discovered and characterized the transient inward current, a finding that contributed to medicine’s understanding of the arrhythmogenic delayed after-depolarization and early after-depolarization events. He also pioneered the use of confocal imaging in cardiac research, developing a number of techniques and tools. He is a leader in developing and implementing novel imaging technologies relevant to muscle biology that capture real-time signals at a high temporal and spatial resolution.

As director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Technology (BioMET), he leads a collaborative effort between the UMB School of Medicine and the Fischell Department of Bioengineering in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. BioMET brings together basic biomedical researchers with engineers to develop new strategies and new devices to enhance the ability to treat diseases.

Lederer, who was UMB’s 2013 Researcher of the Year, received his PhD in physiology and his medical degree from Yale. Before that, he earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Harvard University.

Vincent C.O. Njar, PhDVINCENT C.O. NJAR, PHD

Professor, Department of Pharmacology
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Head, Medicinal Chemistry Section, Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics, Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research

Vincent Njar is a leading medicinal chemist and oncopharmacologist who has made significant discoveries in the development of novel therapeutics for breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.

His contributions to science include the design, discovery, and clinical translation of the CYP17 inhibitor Galeterone for the treatment of cancer. Because of its clinical efficacy, Galeterone and subsequent variants continue to be developed as novel therapeutics. Dr. Njar’s most recent National Institutes of Health R01 grant focuses on the development of next-generation Galeterone analogs for prostate cancer.

Njar has founded two startup companies — Terpene Pharmaceuticals, LLC, and Isoprene Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (IPI), a cancer therapeutic company — and served as president and board member of both. In 2021, IPI was awarded a two-year, $2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute for a translational project to develop a novel therapeutic for triple negative breast cancer.

Njar, who was UMB’s 2021 David J. Ramsay Entrepreneur of the Year, has secured 34 issued patents, more than 30 pending patents, and numerous active intellectual property and licensing activities at UMB. He is the lead inventor of these technologies.

He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) and a PhD in organic chemistry from University College London (England). Except for a brief stint at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Njar has worked at the School of Medicine for almost 20 years.