Five Faculty Inducted into Prestigious Association of American Physicians

Issue Date: 
May 19, 2014

Adding to an impressive list of recent national recognitions, five University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine faculty members have been inducted into the Association of American Physicians, a nonprofit, professional organization founded in 1885 for “the advancement of scientific and practical medicine.”

Election to the AAP is an honor extended to individuals with outstanding credentials in biomedical science and/or translational biomedical research, and is limited to 60 persons per year. Today, the AAP serves as an association of the country’s most accomplished physician-scientists, as a forum to create and disseminate knowledge, and as a source of inspiring role models for upcoming generations of physicians and medical scientists.

The Association of American Physicians recognizes researchers who have made significant contributions to medical science over the course of their careers, while the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI)— which is affiliated with the AAP—recognizes high levels of achievement by members relatively early in their careers.

“This recognition of five of our senior research faculty, particularly coming, as it does, in conjunction with the election of eight Pitt researchers to membership in the ASCI, is a testament to the impact of the research work being done here at Pitt across the spectrum of the faculty ranks,” said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “These external endorsements of the scope and quality of the research here at Pitt are a testament to the University of Pittsburgh’s position of prominence as a research center of national and international stature.”

“I congratulate these outstanding researchers for their commitment to medical science and for their many outstanding research accomplishments over the course of their distinguished careers,” said Arthur S. Levine, Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean, School of Medicine. “Few institutions can claim the caliber of researchers found at Pitt.”

The Pitt AAP inductees follow.

Yuan Chang,  Distinguished Professor of Pathology, is internationally recognized for her work in virology and cancer research. Her research collaborator is Patrick Moore, a Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Together, they have made two discoveries that have revolutionized the study of human tumor viruses and infectious diseases: first, the identification of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus as the cause of AIDS-associated
 Kaposi’s sarcoma; and second, the identification of Merkel cell polyomavirus, which causes Merkel cell carcinoma. Chang’s research has appeared in 113 peer-reviewed articles and has resulted in 20 patents.

Patrick Moore, Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, is one of the world’s leading molecular virologists and epidemiologists. He and his collaborator, Distinguished Professor of Pathology Yuan Chang, have discovered two of the seven known human cancer viruses. In 1994, they discovered Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and developed tests to diagnose it. This virus causes the most common cancer among AIDS patients. Moore and Chang reported on a new method to identify human cancer viruses in 2007 called digital transcriptome subtraction. The researchers used this method to isolate fragments of another human cancer virus, Merkel cell polyomavirus. New diagnostic and treatment options already are emerging from their research.

David Hackam is the Watson Family Professor of Surgery, a professor of cell biology and physiology, and associate dean for medical student research. He also serves as codirector of the Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. His research focuses on understanding the gastrointestinal mechanisms of conditions such as Crohn’s disease, intestinal inflammation, and necrotizing enterocolitis.


David A. Lewis, a noted expert on schizophrenia, is chair and UPMC Professor of Translational Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry; professor of neuroscience in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences; and director of Pitt’s Translational Neuroscience Program. He also serves as the medical director of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC and director of a National Institute of Mental Health Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders in Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry. His research focuses on the neural circuitry of the prefrontal cortex and related brain regions and the alterations of this circuitry in schizophrenia.


Sally Wenzel, professor of medicine and director of the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute at UPMC and Pitt’s School of Medicine, has published widely on differing inflammatory profiles in asthma and their relation to clinical characteristics. She is actively involved in clinical trials in severe asthma, incorporating these inflammation variations in predicting response to therapy. Wenzel also is internationally recognized for her contribution to identifying vastly different personal approaches to the treatment of asthma and severe asthma in particular.