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Founders Week Award Winners Announced

During these hot, humid days, fall seems just a distant destination. But as faculty who are planning their lesson plans for next semester know all too well, autumn will be here before we know it.
 
One of the highlights of autumn is Founders Week, when we revisit the University's history and look ahead to its future. Part of the annual celebration involves recognizing outstanding accomplishments among our talented faculty and staff.
 
So today I am pleased to announce the winners of our 2015 Founders Week Awards:
 
Researcher of the Year
Margaret McCarthy, PhD
School of Medicine
Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology
 
When Dr. McCarthy began studying the biological origins of sex differences in the brain 25 years ago, the scientific community did not grasp the far-reaching impact her studies would have on health and health care. After Dr. McCarthy's series of remarkable discoveries of the novel ways in which the brain is formed in males and females, however, and amid growing awareness that sex and gender are central to all aspects of health and disease, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that sex must be accounted for, controlled for, and incorporated into all preclinical research funded by that agency.
 
Dr. McCarthy now stands among the country's most pre-eminent scientific investigators, advising the NIH on guidelines governing this new policy, one of the agency's most sweeping research policy shifts in more than a decade. She also has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to increasing the presence and advancing the careers of women in science, including dedicating time to female postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates in her own lab.
 
 
Teacher of the Year
Edward Pecukonis, PhD, MSW
School of Social Work
Associate Professor, Director of Maternal and Child Health Training
 
A champion of interprofessional education (IPE), Dr. Pecukonis has instructed students on the UMB campus for the past 32 years. He held a faculty appointment with the School of Medicine from 1983 to 1997, when he joined the full-time faculty at the School of Social Work. The Maternal and Child Health program that Dr. Pecukonis directs trains graduate and doctoral students and has won national awards, including the 2005 Secretary of Health and Human Services Award for Innovations in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. The students, from all UMB professional schools, participate in an interdisciplinary course to tackle serious health issues affecting vulnerable families.
 
Most recently, Dr. Percukonis was awarded $900,000 from the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand this project to the University of Maryland Center for Public Health Social Work Education. An innovator who helped grow IPE at UMB and served as co-director of the Center for Interprofessional Education, Dr. Pecukonis is again broadening the boundaries with the School of Social Work's Center for Excellence in Motivational Interviewing, where he serves as coordinator. He also carries a full faculty course load, is widely published, and a mentor to many.
 
 
Public Servant of the Year
Norman Tinanoff, DDS, MS
School of Dentistry
Professor, Department of Pediatric Dentistry
 
Dr. Tinanoff has improved the lives of children in Maryland and beyond for the past 40 years. In 1999, he joined the School of Dentistry as chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. At that time, access to oral health care services for Maryland's poor children was the worst in the country, with state support of $3 million for the Medicaid dental program, and only 18 percent of children in this program having at least one dental visit per year. In the next 16 years, Dr. Tinanoff and other health advocates developed legislation, advocated for, and testified on nine bills that were eventually passed to improve access to oral health care. Today the budget is $151 million with over 68 percent of Maryland Medicaid children receiving an annual dental visit—one of the highest access rates in the country.
 
In addition to advocating on a national level, Dr. Tinanoff has developed programs for more than 800 dentists and physicians to enhance treatment of dental decay in children and has reached out to treat children in emerging nations while reminding his students the importance of "trying to make a difference."  


Entrepreneur of the Year
Christopher Meenan
School of Medicine
Research Associate, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine
 
During the last 10 years, Mr. Meenan has worked closely with clinical teams to create innovative tools for use in health care, including several projects funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and other organizations. In 2011, he co-founded Analytical Informatics (AI), a Baltimore-based health informatics company dedicated to improving clinical analytics. Al's products are based on tools that Mr. Meenan developed to improve operation success within the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, providing meaningful savings and improved efficiency for health delivery organizations by making it easier to access clinical data.
 
Under Mr. Meenan's leadership as CEO, Al has founded a consortium of leading academic medical centers that are working together to build the next generation of informatics tools. It also has won several awards including the Maryland Innovation Initiative Award for $100,000 in 2013, AuntMinnie.com's prestigious "MinnieAward" for Best New Radiology Vendor 2014, the Department of Business and Economic Development 2015 Maryland LIFE Award for $25,000, and the 2015 Technology Development Corporation ICE Award for Innovation.
 
I don't have to tell you that we've got a lot of remarkable people here 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, including the awards presentation at the Founders Gala on Saturday, Oct. 17, visit the Founders Week website in the weeks to come.
 
Sincerely,

Jay A. Perman, MD
President


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