School of Medicine faculty honored during Celebration of Excellence
Three faculty members from the School of Medicine were honored by the University of Louisville during the institution’s annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence on April 16.
The honorees were Mariusz Ratajczak, M.D., Ph.D., a cancer scientist who received the Distinguished Faculty Award in Research, Basic and Applied Sciences; and two new appointments to endowed chairs, pediatrician George Rodgers Jr., M.D.; and bioengineer Stuart Williams, Ph.D.
“Our faculty members are our partners — key players in our quest to become a preeminent metropolitan research university,” said UofL president James Ramsey, Ph.D., who hosted the event with university provost Shirley Willihnganz, Ph.D.
“As you, our faculty members, strive for and achieve professional excellence, you raise the bar for the whole university.”
Ratajczak, who holds the Henry M. and Stella M. Hoenig Chair in cancer research at UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, came to Louisville in 2001 to develop the stem cell biology program.
An NIH-funded researcher, for the past 25 years he has worked to develop new concepts in bone marrow transplantation that have helped increase scientists’ understanding of what causes leukemia and other blood cancers. His contributions have the potential to help millions of patients with cancer and autoimmune disease.
Most recently, the extensively published Ratajczak received international recognition for his discovery of very small embryonic-like stem cells.
These cells are drawn from adult bone marrow and appear to mimic the ability of stem cells to multiply and develop into other kinds of cells.
His colleagues credit him with significantly advancing his field of research by bringing to his work a unique combination of basic science and clinical knowledge.
Rodgers, UofL’s newly appointed Humana Chair in International Pediatrics, came to Louisville in 1981 as a professor of pediatrics and pharmacology and toxicology, as well as medical director for the Kentucky Regional Poison Center.
For almost 20 years, he has served as a pediatric intensivist at Kosair Children’s Hospital, where he has directed the Division of Pediatric Intensive Care for almost a decade as part of a team that provides in-patient care to non-critically ill hospitalized children.
Rodgers also continues to direct the divisions of International Pediatrics and Pediatric Pharmacology/Toxicology, both of which he founded.
Since 1990, Rodgers has been active in international teaching, particularly in Eastern Europe, as part of programs sponsored by the Humana Foundation.
His research interests include pediatric poisoning, poisoning epidemiology and natural-product poisoning.
Rodgers is a former president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers and has served on many national and international committees relating to pediatrics and toxicology.
Williams, UofL’s newly appointed Jewish Hospital Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Innovation, came to Louisville in 2007 as the scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a partnership between Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and the University of Louisville.
His research interests have focused on medical devices, regenerative medicine and infection control.
Williams, who has maintained continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1979, has written more than 300 scientific publications.
His work has resulted in 16 issued U.S. patents and numerous patents pending. He also has been active in the formation of six biotechnology companies and as a consultant to the medical device and pharmaceutical communities.