Named professorships represent faith in medical promise

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Convocation 2011, UMass Worcester, September 15, 2011

Investiture ceremony will honor donors as well as distinguished faculty

By Mark Shelton
UMass Medical School Communications

The more than 30 endowed professorships and chairs at the UMass Medical School represent something more than just philanthropy; they represent the faith that donors and benefactors—across the country and over many years—have in the promise of biomedical research and academic medical centers. This year, the investiture of three distinguished faculty members illustrates this quite clearly.


Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research


Melissa J. Moore, PhD, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, will be invested as the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research. Dr. Moore, who joined UMMS in 2007 after 13 years at Brandeis University, is a founder and co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute at UMMS.


A native of Virginia, Moore earned a doctorate in biological chemistry at MIT, where she also did her postdoctoral research with 1993 Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD. Moore is a pioneer in RNA biology—crucial to understanding how organisms express genetic traits across generations—and the Moore lab at UMMS is interested in “post-transcription” gene regulation, a crucial step in gene expression.

Moore has been a Searle Scholar and a David and Lucile Packard Fellow. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology honored her with the William C. Rose Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to biochemical and molecular biological research and her demonstrated commitment to the training of younger scientists. She has also received a Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Beginning in 1995, the trustee of the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Trust, David J. M. Proctor of Pepperell, Mass., began annual support of research at UMMS—prompted by a simple appeal letter asking for a donation to the Cancer Center’s “Our Danny” Cancer Fund, which supports translational research. Support by the trust was ongoing, and when Proctor was diagnosed with cancer in 1998, his duty to liquidate the trust resulted in support to establish the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research. Moore will be the third UMMS researcher to hold this esteemed chair.




David J. Freelander Professor of AIDS Research


Jeremy Luban, MD, who will be invested as the David J. Freelander Professor of AIDS Research, is new to UMMS, but for many years has been a leader in the study of HIV; he was in medical school at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons when patients with what would turn out to be AIDS began to be seen in hospitals and clinics.


“In a sense, my professional career grew up with the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” he later told the Foundation for AIDS Research. “I started medical school in 1983, and by our third year, we were seeing a lot of AIDS patients in the local hospitals in New York. During our fourth year of medical school, students had the opportunity to take an elective, and I decided I wanted to go to Africa and work with AIDS patients. When I came back to the United States, I did my internship/residency and then went to work as a postdoctoral researcher—my feeling was that we needed to know a lot more about the basic biology of HIV so we could come up with better therapeutics.”

Since then, Dr. Luban has been working on HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases. He is the author or co-author of 84 original peer-reviewed publications and serves on the editorial boards of four prestigious scientific journals. One of his most significant contributions to the field is the discovery of cellular factors that are important for HIV-1 replication or which confer immunity to the virus.

He joins UMMS as professor of molecular medicine and co-principal investigator of the NIH-funded UMass Center for Aids Research (CFAR). Since 2008, he has been professeur ordinaire in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine of the University of Geneva.

The David J. Freelander Professorship was established by Robert and Aviva Freelander to honor their second son, a noted artist who died of AIDS in 1987. A longtime Worcester resident and benefactor, Robert Freelander founded Come Play Products in 1948, a Worcester toy manufacturing firm especially innovative for its time, as it employed workers with physical and mental handicaps. Freelander was determined to prove that those with disabilities could also be productive workers. The firm was so successful that both government and private programs turned to Freelander for expertise and guidance. In 1978, he received the Special Distinguished Service Award from the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.

Luban will succeed Mario Stevenson, PhD, the inaugural Freelander Professor, who left UMMS for a leadership position as chief of infectious diseases at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami.



Joy McCann Professorship for Women in Medicine


Andrieni, julia        
Julia D. Andrieni, MD, will be invested as the third Joy McCann Professor for Women in Medicine, one of the most innovative endowed professorships at UMMS. Dr. Andrieni joined UMMS as associate professor of medicine and chief of general internal medicine at UMass Memorial Medical Center in 2006; she is also vice chair of clinical services for the Department of Medicine. In these positions, she is responsible for the primary care program for the Department of Medicine.


A native of Augusta, Ga., Andrieni graduated from Vassar with a degree in economics. A lifelong interest in medicine led her to a post-baccalaureate program at Columbia University and then to medical school at SUNY Stony Brook. She is a recent graduate of the Drexel University College of Medicine Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Fellowship Program, which has contributed to her vision for the Joy McCann Professorship for Women in Medicine. During her term as the Joy McCann professor, Andrieni would like to establish a continuum of mentoring for women at all levels, support a defined program of mentorship, and establish a professional and social network.

The Joy McCann Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation that supports excellence in medical, nursing and science education, as well as research and patient care. In 2004, UMMS was selected by the Florida-based foundation to receive funds to establish the Joy McCann Professorship for Women in Medicine in recognition of former chancellor and dean Aaron Lazare’s exceptional stewardship.

The three-year professorship recognizes a female faculty member who has demonstrated leadership in medical education, research, patient care and community service, and has provided mentorship of students and colleagues; the recipient is nominated by colleagues, with the final selection made by the chancellor. Andrieni succeeds Patricia Franklin, MD, MBA, MPH, professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation; the first Joy McCann Professor at UMMS was Linda Weinreb, MD, professor and vice chair of family medicine & community health.

All three will be invested in a ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 5 p.m. on the campus green.


Related UMassMedNow links:

International HIV/AIDS investigator joins faculty

 Melissa Moore wins Gates Foundation grant

New Joy McCann Professor for Women in Medicine named

Other related links:

Convocation events information








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