Amara, Grandis, Michalopoulos, Peitzman, Shroff Are Named Distinguished Professors; Shuman Named Distinguished Service Professor

Issue Date: 
July 9, 2012

The University of Pittsburgh is honoring six faculty members this month by naming five of them Distinguished Professors and one of them Distinguished Service Professor.

The honorees and their new titles are: Susan G. Amara, Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology; Jennifer Grandis, Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology; George Michalopoulos, Distinguished Professor of Pathology; Andrew B. Peitzman, Distinguished Professor of Surgery; Sanjeev G. Shroff, Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering; and Larry Shuman, Distinguished Service Professor of Industrial Engineering.

The rank of Distinguished Professor recognizes extraordinary, internationally recognized scholarly attainment in an individual discipline or field. The title of Distinguished Service Professor recognizes distinctive contributions and outstanding service (e.g., professional, regional, national, international) to the University community in support of its multifaceted teaching/research/service mission, as well as performance excellence in the faculty member’s department or school and national stature in his or her discipline or field.

Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg made the appointments based on the recommendations of Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. The appointment of Amara, Grandis, Michalopoulos, and Peitzman were effective July 1. Shroff and Shuman’s appointments will be effective Sept. 1.

Brief biographies of the honorees follow.

Susan G. Amara is the Thomas Detre Professor and Chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurobiology and codirector of the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. In the late 1980s, Amara’s Yale University lab was the first to clone the norepinephrine and dopamine transporters, two of many molecules that regulate neurotransmitter concentrations within the brain. Since then, her work has produced significant insights into the structure, function and biology of eurotransmitter transporters, with implications for understanding addiction, antidepressant action, and degenerative brain conditions.

Amara, who joined the Pitt faculty in 2003, also holds a secondary appointment as professor of pharmacology and chemical biology. Before joining Pitt, she held positions as a faculty member and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Yale and later, as a senior scientist and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the Vollum Institute in Portland, Ore. She has received a number of coveted awards and fellowships, among them the 1992 Young Investigator Award from the Society for Neuroscience, the 1993 John J. Abel Award from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, an investigator award from the McKnight Foundation, a 1997 MERIT Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the 2006 Julius Axelrod Award from the Catecholamine Society. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 and, in 2007, was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her outstanding contributions to neuroscience. In 2011 she served as president of the Society for Neuroscience, a scientific organization with more than 41,000 members worldwide.

Amara received a BS in biological sciences from Stanford University and a PhD in physiology and pharmacology from the University of California, San Diego.

Jennifer Grandis (MED ’87) is the UPMC Endowed Chair in Head and Neck Cancer Surgical Research in the School of Medicine’s Department of Otolaryngology and director of the Head and Neck Program in the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. A physician-scientist, Grandis has devoted her research career to studying the critical genetic alterations that characterize head and neck cancers, with the ultimate goal of improving patient treatment and survival.

Grandis, who is also the assistant vice chancellor for research program integration in the Pitt Schools of the Health Sciences, began her career at Pitt in 1987 as an intern in the Pitt’s School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery. She completed her residency in Pitt’s Department of Otolaryngology in 1993 and became a research fellow for the School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases in 1991.

Through her teaching, many of Grandis’ doctoral students have developed successful careers as faculty members in tenure-stream positions and as researchers at prominent cancer centers and hospitals. On the national level, Grandis secured funding in 2005 for a conference on research training, which resulted in a new National Institutes of Health funding opportunity aimed at training ear, nose, and throat physicians to conduct research.

Grandis is a deputy editor for Clinical Cancer Research and the scientific editor for Cancer Discovery. She serves on the American Association for Cancer Research’s board of directors (2010-13 term). She received a BA in biology and art history from Swarthmore College in 1982 and an MD from Pitt in 1987.

George Michalopoulos is professor and chair in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology. He has been widely recognized for his contributions to understanding the pathways of growth factors leading the liver to regenerate. In 1989, his laboratory, in conjunction with two other laboratories, independently discovered Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF), a protein that is a major driver of the regeneration of liver and other tissues. His laboratory subsequently identified the receptor for that protein.

Michalopoulos joined the Pitt School of Medicine faculty in 1991, also serving as associate vice chancellor for the Schools of the Health Sciences and as interim dean for the School of Medicine from 1995 to 1998. Prior to his tenure at Pitt, he was an assistant professor at Duke University. He is a member of several professional associations and has worked as a consultant for many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. He is cofounder of Kytaron, Inc., a local biotech company working on building small tissues in culture and capitalizing on several new lines of biotechnology, including some that were invested in and patented by him and his collaborators. In addition to chairing the Department of Pathology, Michalopoulos continues his research in liver regeneration and the connection of growth regulation of normal liver and the genomically altered pathways seen in liver cancer. For his work, he received the Rous-Whipple award from the Society for Investigative Pathology and the Distinguished Research Award from the American Liver Foundation.

Michalopoulos received an MD from the Athens University School of Medicine in 1969. He completed a residency in anatomic pathology and a PhD in oncology at the Wisconsin Medical Center in Madison in 1977. He received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Wisconsin in 2010.

Andrew B. Peitzman is the Mark M. Ravitch Professor of Surgery and vice chair for clinical services in Pitt’s School of Medicine. His career has focused on all aspects of trauma care with extensive international involvement, particularly in Latin America. In 1984, Peitzman started what has become one of the busiest trauma centers in the country at UPMC-Presbyterian Hospital. Peitzman led the paradigm shift toward non-operative management of blunt abdominal injury and helped establish equipoise in the management of blunt splenic injury. In conjunction with the liver surgeons at UPMC, Peitzman helped change the operative approach to major liver injury, with a threefold decrease in mortality. Peitzman continues his career-long interest in hemorrhagic shock and remains heavily involved in trauma care globally, particularly in Latin America, as outlined in his Panamerican Trauma Society Presidential Address, “Our Global Village.”

Before joining the Pitt faculty, Peitzman earned his MD at the University of Pittsburgh and completed his residency here. During his residency, he spent two years engaged in basic science research under the direction of G. Tom Shires at Weill Cornell Medical College (formerly known as Cornell Medical Center), which is affiliated with New York Hospital.

Peitzman is a past president of the Panamerican Trauma Society and a past president of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma. He served as executive director of the Panamerican Trauma Society and chair of the board of the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation. He has authored more than 180 peer-reviewed publications and 80 book chapters. Additionally, he has written nine books, including The Trauma Manual (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002), which is now in its fourth edition and published in Spanish and Portuguese as well, and the recently published Acute Care Surgery (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012). His recent honors include honorary membership in the Colombian Trauma Society, Chilean Society of Surgeons, Asociación Mexicana de Medicina y Cirugía del Trauma, and Sociedad de Cirujanos Generales del Peru. He is also a founding member of the European Society of Trauma and Emergency Surgery.

Sanjeev G. Shroff is professor and Gerald E. McGinnis Endowed Chair in Bioengineering in the Swanson School of Engineering; professor of medicine in the School of Medicine; and professor of clinical and translational Science in the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Additionally, he is a core faculty member in the Pitt-UPMC McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine and an affiliated faculty member at the Magee-Womens Research Institute. Shroff has served as associate chair of the Department of Bioengineering since 2008.

Shroff received his PhD in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981 and the next year completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Penn within the Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Division of the Department of Medicine. Prior to joining the Pitt faculty in 2000, Shroff was for 18 years a faculty member in the Cardiology Section of the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine.

Shroff’s research interests involve studies of the cardiovascular system—including the evaluation of contractile and regulatory proteins and overall whole heart function; vascular stiffness and cardiovascular function; and large-scale mathematical simulations of biological systems for research, education, and engineering design. He has published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles and has received significant research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Heart Association, and National Science Foundation. He also is an elected fellow of the American Physiological Society, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Shroff is the recipient of the 2007 Carnegie Science Center Award for Excellence (University/Post-Secondary Educator). He also received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011 for his passion for teaching students both in the classroom and in the laboratory. In particular, he was praised for his pioneering contributions to innovative, simulation-based teaching tools that are having a national impact on the training of bioengineers, health care providers, and medical students. Shroff is the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health T32 training grant titled “Training Program in Cardiovascular Bioengineering,” which was initiated in 2005 and is currently in its second five-year cycle of funding.

Larry Shuman is professor of industrial engineering and senior associate dean for academic affairs in the Swanson School of Engineering. Shuman is recognized for his work in improving the engineering educational experience and his studies of the ethical behavior of engineers and engineering managers. Previously, he had studied the application of operations research to health delivery systems and had been involved with the design and simulation of prehospital care systems, the evaluation of care delivery processes, and the design of particular hospital subsystems, including simulation studies of diagnostic imaging, emergency departments, operating rooms, nurse scheduling, and staffing. In his administrative role, he is primarily responsible for supervising the Swanson School’s cooperative engineering education program and developing the school’s international education program. Approximately half of the school’s undergraduate engineering students now participate in the co-op program, while last year 37 percent of the graduating seniors had an international experience.

Shuman, who previously served as interim dean of the Swanson School of Engineering, joined the department in 1969. He served as cochair of the 1997 Frontiers in Education Conference, held in Pittsburgh. He is the founding editor of Advances in Engineering Education; he also served as a senior associate editor of the Journal of Engineering Education, both published by the American Society of Engineering Education. Previously, he was co-editor of the Journal of the Society for Health Systems. He has directed National Science Foundation-funded studies focused on models and modeling (with six partner institutions), as well as studies focused on the ethical behavior of engineers. His assessment of engineering education outcomes (with five partner institutions) resulted in methodologies for assessing changes in student attitudes and predicting those students most likely to leave engineering; his assessment technique was adopted by a number of other engineering programs. In total, Shuman has been principal or coprincipal investigator on more than 30 sponsored research projects funded by federal and state government agencies and private foundations. During his career at Pitt, he has collaborated closely with a number of colleagues, most notably Harvey Wolfe, professor emeritus of industrial engineering throughout most of his career, and more recently and currently with Mary Besterfield-Sacre, a professor of industrial engineering.

Shuman received his PhD in operations research from the Johns Hopkins University, and the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Cincinnati.