University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced today that the School has been awarded matching funds from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) as part of the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund program. The funds, when combined with private philanthropy, will enable UM SOM to establish two new endowed professorships – one in human virology and vaccine development, the other in surgical science and entrepreneurship.
The E-Nnovation program, which was created as an economic stimulus in 2014, is a special non-lapsing fund designed to help the state’s research universities recruit and retain top scientists and investigators. Under the fund, $8.5 million will be appropriated by the governor each year from fiscal years 2016 through 2021.
This year, UM SOM secured private donations of nearly $2 million, qualifying the institution for matching state funds. As part of its goal to attract top faculty and foster the development of new technologies and therapies, the School requested that the funds be used to establish the two endowed professorships.
“Endowed professorships provide our outstanding faculty members with the critical resources they need to sustain and expand the promising research they endeavor to carry out, while at the same time enabling them to launch new initiatives to educate and train future physicians, said Dean Reece, who is also Vice President, Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “Professorships are an exceptionally effective tool in retaining and recruiting the best and the brightest.”
The first endowed professorship, established with an anonymous gift, will be the Robert C. Gallo Distinguished Professorship, named for Robert C. Gallo, MD, who pioneered the field of human retrovirology, and has made several scientific breakthroughs, including the co-discovery of HIV as the cause of AIDS. With this professorship, the E-Nnovations matching funds program strengthens the school’s research and development capabilities as a leader in vaccine development bringing life-saving treatments to patients around the globe.
“Ensuring that we can continue our research competitiveness by supporting new discoveries and vital care and treatment protocols in the areas of HIV/AIDS and other virally-linked diseases, as well as vaccine development, is a vital part of the School's Research Endowment Plan,” said Dr. Gallo, who is also the Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor of Medicine, and Director of UM SOM’s Institute of Human Virology (IHV). “In addition, the generous donations and matching funds provided through the E-Nnovation program will help IHV attract the best and the brightest medical virologists from around the world.”
UM SOM will also use state matching funds to create an Endowed Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurial Surgical Science, established by a group of donors, including Thomas and Alice-Marie Hales, Hamish and Christine Osborne, The Peter and Georgia Angelos Foundation, and The Abell Foundation. The goal of the professorship is to seed a unique program that quickens the pace of developing feasible bioengineered solutions, and to increase creation of innovative medical technology and commercialization to help critically-ill people. The endowment will leverage the recruitment of a senior biomedical engineer to become the Endowed Professor in Entrepreneurial Surgical Science in the UM SOM Department of Surgery.
“This professorship is an important part of the Department of Surgery’s plan to develop innovative surgical research programs that are ideally positioned for investment, translation and commercialization,” said Stephen T. Bartlett, MD, who is the Peter Angelos Distinguished Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery, as well as Executive Vice President and Surgeon-in-Chief of the University of Maryland Medical System.
“Discoveries in critical fields including bio-designed organs, transplant tolerance, xenotransplantation, stem cell therapy and pleural and peritoneal cancers are waiting to be transformed into biomedical innovation that will revolutionize patient retreatment and improve patient outcomes.”
Ultimately, the goal is to replicate other successful startups funded by the Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) and led by UM SOM surgeons. The creation of Harpoon Medical, Inc., for example, co-founded in 2013 by James Gammie, MD, Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery. Harpoon’s licensed technology centers on an image-guided cardiac surgical tool inserted via a small incision between the ribs.
In addition to dramatically diminishing patient trauma, the device reduces hospital stays and medical expenses. Bartley Griffith, MD, the Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor in Surgery and Executive Director of the UM SOM Program in Lung Healing, developed the first wearable “out-of-hospital “artificial lung system. UM Ventures and Breethe, Inc. announced in last year that Breethe, an early-stage, Baltimore-based medical device company, had obtained exclusive rights to University of Maryland, Baltimore intellectual property for the development of a wearable, portable blood pump oxygenator that will function as an artificial lung system for patients suffering from respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary collapse.
The artificial lung will be the very first device in the field and will be tested first in humans at the University of Maryland Medical Center by UM SOM investigators.
According to Brian J. DeFilippis, UM SOM Associate Dean for Development, the endowed professorships further enhance the school’s efforts to grow its research portfolio, provide a positive impact on the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland, and engage prospective donors with an ideal opportunity for philanthropy.
“This program presents a unique and outstanding benefit to our donors by offering the potential to magnify the impact of their philanthropy, to advance science and medicine and to propel the School of Medicine forward as a research powerhouse, said Mr. DeFilippis. “It is imperative that we capitalize on this incentive and grow the number of endowed professorships for our medical school.”
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
The University of Maryland School of Maryland, chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States, continues today as a leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland, and is an integral part of the 12-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists, plus more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S., with top-tier faculty and programs in vaccine development, cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the U.S., but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 30 countries around the world. http://medschool.umaryland.edu/