Faculty members recognized for outstanding research

Faculty members recognized for outstanding research

March 20, 2013

T. Conrad Gilliam has been named a Distinguished Service Professor and four other members of biological sciences faculty -- Issam A. Awad, James K. Liao, Elizabeth McNally and Christopher R. Shea -- have received named professorships.

T. Conrad Gilliam, professor in Human Genetics and dean for Research and Graduate Education in the Biological Sciences Division, has been named the Marjorie I. and Bernard A. Mitchell Distinguished Service Professor.

Gilliam is an authority on the identification and characterization of heritable mutations that affect the nervous system. He studies rare disease mutations and common heritable traits and disorders, such as fear-learning and autism, using mouse models as well as genomic and bioinformatic approaches.

As Dean for Research and Graduate Education, he is responsible for the strategic planning and quality control of research and graduate education throughout the Biological Sciences Division, and ensures that faculty in the division have effective advocacy for their academic missions.

Gilliam is also a senior fellow at the Computation Institute and a Pritzker Fellow with the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Gilliam came to UChicago in 2004 as chair of Human Genetics. He was previously a professor of Psychiatry and Genetics & Development at Columbia University. He was named director of the Columbia Genome Center in 2000.

Issam A. Awad, director of Neurovascular Surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine and an expert in the surgical management of neurovascular conditions, such as cerebral aneurysms, cerebrovascular malformations, hemorrhagic stroke and skull base tumors, has been named the John Harper Seeley Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery), Neurology and the Cancer Center.

An internationally recognized scholar and educator, Awad concentrates his research on vascular biology, genetics and comprehensive outcome analysis in neurovascular disease and stroke. Among his active research are National Institutes of Health-funded investigations into the molecular mechanisms involved in the formation and progression of cerebral cavernous malformation, and its therapeutic modification.

He has authored several textbooks and published more than 250 scholarly papers on clinical innovations, surgical outcomes and research.

Awad has been elected to some of the most distinguished professional societies. He has served as president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Chairman of the joint Cerebrovascular Section of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons, among other titles. He is also the founding chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Angioma Alliance, an organization advocating on behalf of patients and families affected by cerebral cavernous malformations.

James K. Liao, section chief of cardiology, has been named the Harold H. Hines Jr. Professor of Medicine. Liao came to UChicago from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in August 2012.

He studies the processes that regulate blood vessel function and response to injury, with emphasis on the role of lipid-lowering medications in preventing ischemic stroke, coronary artery disease, and heart failure. An Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, Liao has published more than 125 original articles in scientific journals, including Science, Nature, Nature Medicine and Circulation.

He served on editorial boards for the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Circulation Research and others. He lectures internationally on treatment of dyslipidemia, vascular disease, and ischemic stroke.

He is a respected clinician, with a focus on cholesterol management and peripheral vascular disease, and a distinguished teacher. He consistently won Harvard University's Certificate of Distinction in Teaching and has trained more than 60 doctoral students and postdoctoral research fellows, many of whom are now professors at leading institutions.

Elizabeth McNally, director of the Institute for Cardiovascular Research and the Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic, has been named the A. J. Carlson Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics.

McNally studies inherited cardiovascular and neuromuscular diseases. Her work on the genetic mechanisms of cardiomyopathies and muscular dystrophies has identified several genes that are important for cardiac and skeletal muscle membrane stability and produced insights into how heart failure and muscle dysfunction occur. Her current research focuses on improving genetic diagnosis and risk assessment, identifying and implementing preventive therapies for heart and muscle disease, and regenerative medicine.

A prominent physician, McNally also directs the Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic, which provides counseling and cardiovascular care for patients and families with inherited cardiovascular disorders.

She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Circulation and Circulation Research. She served as president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation from 2011 to 2012, is an active member of the Coalition for Life Science, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. She has been recognized as an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and as a Distinguished Clinical Scientist by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

McNally joined the UChicago faculty in 1996.

Christopher R. Shea, section chief of dermatology, has been named the first Eugene J. Van Scott Professor of Dermatology.

Shea is a highly regarded expert in disorders of the skin, hair and nails. He specializes in general dermatology, pigmented skin lesions -- including moles and melanoma -- cutaneous lymphoma, and dermatopathology.

Shea's research focuses on melanoma, investigating its origins, tumor markers, and treatment. He also investigates the effects of ultraviolet radiation on skin and the pathologic basis of skin diseases.

A member of the UChicago faculty since 2001, Shea is engaged in the professional training of medical students, dermatology residents, and dermatopathology fellows. Additionally, he serves as director or co-director of many regional, national, and international medical courses. Shea has published more than 170 scientific papers and chapters, and he serves on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Journal of Dermatopathology and Journal of Cutaneous Pathology. In 2012, he served as president of the Chicago Dermatological Society.

Shea has been recognized for his clinical skill, dedication to advancing the scientific basis of dermatology and dermatopathology, and devotion to medical education.