Nine SoM Faculty become Endowed Professors

Monday, May 4, 2015
By Jill Boy

Nine members of the School of Medicine faculty were named to endowed professorships by Duke University on April 30, 2015.

Awards such as these are among the most prestigious faculty appointments at Duke. They recognize the recipients’ outstanding achievements and honor Duke Medicine’s legacy – beginning with its founding benefactor, James B. Duke, one of the great industrialists and philanthropists of the 20th century – as a health care, research and medical education enterprise second to none, dedicated to creating a better tomorrow.
The awards would not have been possible without the generosity of donors who have invested in the mission of Duke Medicine and the patients for whom it provides care.

James B. Duke Professorship of Biochemistry
Hashim Al-Hashimi, PhD
Professor of Biochemistry

Hashim Al-Hashimi is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry with a secondary appointment as professor in the Department of Chemistry. He also serves as director for Duke’s Center for RNA Biology.

An acknowledged world-leader in the vast field of nucleic acid structure, function and dynamics, Al-Hashimi’s research focuses on the development and application of NMR and computational methods to visualize dynamic biological processes at the atomic level within living cells and to develop a fundamental biophysical understanding to aid the design of therapeutics.

His research has helped catalyze a paradigm shift in the structural biology of nucleic acids, moving the field away from static representations of DNA and RNA and toward a detailed dynamic description that captures how these molecules change shape to carry out essential life processes. His studies have redefined the DNA double helix by showing that Watson-Crick base pairs constantly morph into Hoogsteen base pairs, potentially defining a new layer of genetic information. His group also visualized “conformational selection” of RNA by ligands and used this to develop new technologies for the discovery of RNA-targeting small molecule therapeutics.

Al-Hashimi received his doctorate in Biophysical Chemistry from Yale University for research on the development of residual dipolar coupling NMR methods to study the structure and dynamics of proteins. He spent 11 years at the University of Michigan as assistant professor, associate professor, Robert L Kuczkowski Professor, and J. Lawrence Oncley Collegiate Professor of Chemistry and Biophysics in the Department of Chemistry and Biophysics Research Division before joining Duke in January 2014.

J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry
James A. Blumenthal, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities in the field of behavioral medicine, James Blumenthal’s research has directly served to enhance patient well-being and quality of life across multiple medical conditions. He has led pioneering clinical trials to examine mind-body interactions in diverse patient populations such as those with major depression, coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and hypertension.

Blumenthal received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington and joined Duke as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry in 1980 after completing an internship in medical psychology and post-doctoral fellowship in Aging and Human Development at Duke.

A committed educator, Blumenthal has mentored numerous students and trainees in psychology and has taught courses in behavioral medicine and health psychology to undergraduate and graduate students.

Blumenthal has authored or co-authored more than 360 publications including major work that has focused on the effects of lifestyle modification on cardiovascular disease,  neurobehavioral consequences of  coronary artery bypass graft surgery and lung transplantation, effects of aerobic exercise as a therapy for heart failure, effects of stress on patients with coronary heart disease, diet and exercise effects on neurocognition, and exercise training for major depression.

His many honors include the Pioneer Award given at the Cleveland Clinic Heart-Brain Summit, Society of Behavioral Medicine Distinguished Scientist Award, and Michael L. Pollock Established Investigator Award. Blumenthal has served as president of the American Psychosomatic Society and the Division of Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association.  He also received an honorary doctorate in medicine from Uppsala University in Sweden.

John Strohbehn Professor of Radiology
Donald P. Frush, MD
Professor of Radiology

An international expert in radiation protection in pediatric imaging, Donald P. Frush specializes in pediatric imaging, especially computed tomography (CT). The author of 225 peer reviewed journal publications, Frush has focused his research on CT related to radiation dose assessment and protection, image quality and CT techniques and applications in children. He is a founding member, and current co-chair of the globally recognized Image Gently Alliance, an education and awareness organization dedicated to practices to reduce medical radiation exposure to children.  Roles have included responsibilities in radiation protection for medical imaging with both the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization. He is a Fellow in the American College of Radiology as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Frush is a Professor of Radiology and Pediatrics and has served as chief of the Division of Pediatric Radiology from 2001 -2014. He has also served as interim chair of the Department of Radiology and is currently vice chairman for safety and quality in the department.

Among his many appointments, Frush has served as president and as chairman of the board of the Society for Pediatric Radiology (SPR) and currently serves on the board of directors of the SPR and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. Frush has had leadership roles with the American Board of Radiology, American College of Radiology, and the Radiological Society of North America.

A graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine, Frush joined the faculty of Duke University Medical Center in 1992 as assistant professor of radiology following two years of residency in pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, and his residency in radiology at Duke University Medical Center.  He completed his fellowship in pediatric radiology at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati.

David C. Sabiston, Jr.  Professorship in Surgery
Allan D. Kirk, MD, PhD
Professor & Chair of Department of Surgery

An internationally recognized surgical scientist and authority on transplant immunology, Allan D. Kirk is chair of the Department of Surgery in the Duke University School of Medicine.

Kirk’s primary research interests lie in translational immunology focused on the development and implementation of new immunomodulatory strategies that enhance tolerance of transplanted tissue.  He is principal investigator on numerous projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, Federal Drug Administration, and Department of Defense.

Kirk is a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.  He currently serves as editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Transplantation and has authored more than 200 scientific manuscripts.

After receiving his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine, Kirk completed his PhD in Immunology at Duke. He completed his general surgery residency at Duke and a multi-organ transplantation fellowship at the University of Wisconsin. Kirk served in the United States Navy where he reached the rank of commander and principal investigator at the Naval Medical Research Center.

In 1999, he became the inaugural chief of the National Institutes of Health’s Intramural Solid Organ Transplant Program, and subsequently served as a senior investigator and founding chief of the Transplantation Branch at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Disque D. Deane University Professor
Richard J. O’Brien, MD, PhD
Professor & Chair of Department of Neurology

Richard J. O’Brien was appointed the first chair of the newly created Department of Neurology at Duke University in 2014. He is a recognized expert in research and treatment focused on the aging brain and neurodegenerative disorders.

O’Brien has made significant contributions to the understanding of the biology of glutamate receptors at excitatory synapses in the brain and, more recently, to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. His investigations in Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology have led to critical new insight into the role of the amyloid peptide and cerebrovascular pathology in the etiology of dementia and the role of normal aging in diseases of the brain. As testament to his research achievements, O’Brien has maintained continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1999.

Dr. O’Brien received his undergraduate degree, MD and PhD at Harvard University. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a residency in neurology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is a member of the leadership teams of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging and the BIOCARD study as well as the McKnight and Simons Foundations. Dr. O’Brien has received five awards in recognition of his teaching.

Robert J. Reeves Professorship of Radiology  
Erik K. Paulson, MD
Professor & Chair of Department of Radiology

Chair of Duke’s Department of Radiology since 2013, Erik K. Paulson has a distinguished career that includes important leadership roles and groundbreaking achievements in research and patient care.

Committed to clinically-driven research, Paulson has published extensively with more than 190 peer-reviewed publications.  These publications reflect a sustained focus within three major areas of interest:  hepatic cross-sectional imaging, CT technology assessment, and image guided intervention. Paulson’s work reflects collaboration within the Department of Radiology and with colleagues from the Departments of Medicine, Pathology, and Surgery.

A national leader in abdominal imaging, his leadership and expertise in hepatobiliary and pancreatic imaging has significantly impacted the way these disease processes are evaluated. He is considered a pioneer in the development of CT colonography. Most recently, Paulson has implemented state-of-the-art Dual Energy CT and enhanced ongoing efforts to reduce radiation dose in CT.  He serves as a mentor for residents, fellows, and junior faculty.

Paulson’s work has won awards of excellence from the Radiological Society of North America, American Roentgen Ray Society, Society of Computed Body Tomography and Magnetic Resonance, and the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiologists.  He was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Society of Computed Body Tomography and Magnetic Resonance and is currently the president–elect of that prestigious society.

Paulson earned his Bachelor of Science (Phi Beta Kappa) in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado and MD at Duke University School of Medicine.  Following an internship in Internal Medicine at Duke University, a residency and chief residency in Radiology at the University of Utah, and a fellowship in Abdominal Imaging at Duke, Paulson joined the Duke faculty in 1991.  He was inducted into the honorary society Alpha Omega Alpha as a faculty member.

Paulson’s wife, Kathy Merritt, also graduated from the Duke University School of Medicine and has served as a preceptor for Duke Medical Students.

Lawrence C. Katz Professorship
Michael L. Platt, PhD
Professor of Neurobiology

A foremost authority on brain sciences, Michael L. Platt is director of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and director of the Duke Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. He is a professor of Neurobiology, Evolutionary Anthropology, Psychology & Neuroscience, and Marketing at Duke University.

Platt’s research focuses on the brain mechanisms responsible for making decisions, using a combination of neural recordings, pharmacology, brain imaging, genetics, and computation. Neurobiological studies in his lab have revealed the mechanisms that allow us to compute the value of our decisions, learn from the outcomes of previous choices, deal with uncertainty, explore the environment, seek new information, share attention and empathize with others.

Continuously funded for the last 15 years by multiple funding organizations including the National Institutes of Health, the Klingenstein Foundation, and the Department of Defense, Platt has authored over 75 peer-reviewed papers and over 35 review and opinion papers. His work has been cited over 4,000 times. He is an editor of major textbooks in neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience, and is a former president of the Society for Neuroeconomics.

Platt is a winner of the Ruth and A. Morris Williams Faculty Research Prize in the Duke University School of Medicine, and was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow. He has given the Sage Lecture at UC Santa Barbara and has received the Astor Visiting Professor award at Oxford University (deferred). He was also a recipient of the Master Clinician/Teacher Award from the Duke University School of Medicine.

Platt received his B.A from Yale and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at New York University.

William Cleland Professorship of Pediatrics 
Ann M. Reed, MD
Professor & Chair of  Department of Pediatrics

An international authority in the management of juvenile myositis, Ann M. Reed’s reputation in this subspecialty area of pediatric rheumatology is attributed to her scientific contributions and the leadership positions she has held in the field. She currently serves as chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine and is a pediatrician with specialized training in rheumatology.

Her research has helped to identify genes that predispose children to Juvenile Dermatomyositis and to provide a comprehensive understanding of the genetics of the disease. Her work published in the Lancet, Journal of Immunology and Arthritis Rheumatism helped define the role of chimerism and inflammatory cytokine and gene expression signatures in the pathogenesis of myositis.  Additionally, her laboratory and clinical studies have been instrumental in defining the management of this disease and international consensus on disease outcomes and standards.

Reed’s research in the field of myositis has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health and other private foundations for almost 20 years and has over 120 peer-reviewed publications.Reed received her MD degree from the Medical College of Ohio. She completed an internship and residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron and a fellowship in clinical immunology/rheumatology at Northwestern University/Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She additionally completed a research fellowship in a molecular genetics laboratory at the University of Chicago.

Joseph A.C. Wadsworth Professorship
Cynthia A. Toth, MD
Professor of Ophthalmology

Cynthia A. Toth is a professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at Duke University and an international leader in the field of vitreoretinal surgery. She specializes in the evaluation and surgical treatment of vitreoretinal diseases in adults and children and has pioneered the development of macular translocation surgery for age-related macular degeneration.

Recognized for her advancements in surgical techniques and the instrumentation to improve them, Toth is a world expert in retinal imaging with optical coherence tomography (OCT). She co-developed the technology and was the first to translate both hand-held spectral domain OCT imaging for bedside examination of the infant eye and a novel intraoperative real-time high-speed OCT for image guided ocular surgery. Her studies of the developing premature infant retina have opened the door to a new understanding of the causes of poor vision in these infants. Toth co-founded The Reading Center at Duke, which provides support in training, data acquisition, and grading of OCT images for multicenter clinical trials of ophthalmic therapies utilizing optical coherence tomography as an outcome measure.

Toth arrived at Duke in 1993 as an assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology. She directed the Duke Eye Center Biophysics Laboratory from 1998-2006 is currently director of the Duke Advanced Research in SS/SDOCT Imaging Laboratory. She has been an avid mentor and was the Vitreoretinal Fellowship director 2009-14. Toth has authored or co-authored more than 175 publications. She received her BA from Lehigh University and her MD from The Medical College of Pennsylvania. She was a vitreoretinal fellow at the University of California’s Davis Medical Center.