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Roger Davis to chair Program in Molecular Medicine

HHMI investigator, NAS member, to succeed Michael Czech

UMass Medical School Communications

February 14, 2019
  Roger J. Davis, PhD, FRS

Roger J. Davis, PhD, FRS

Roger J. Davis, PhD, FRS, has accepted the position of chair of the Program in Molecular Medicine, succeeding the founding chair, Michael P. Czech, PhD, according to an announcement by Terence R. Flotte, MD, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine.

“Dr. Davis, an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the H. Arthur Smith Chair in Cancer Research and vice chair and professor of the Program in Molecular Medicine, is known to all of you as one of the most scientifically prominent, generous and gracious colleagues on the faculty,” said Dean Flotte. “His enthusiastic willingness to lead the Program in Molecular Medicine is a mark of his ongoing commitment to the Medical School’s leading role in making discoveries that change the world.”

Under Dr. Czech’s leadership for the last three decades, the Program in Molecular Medicine has grown to include more than 40 faculty research laboratories, including those of renowned scientists who have been awarded the Nobel, Lasker and Breakthrough prizes; who have been named investigators of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and who have been elected to membership in the national academies.

Czech, the Isadore and Fannie Foxman Chair in Medical Research, announced last year his plan to step aside from his chairman’s role to devote his full energies to his research. “We tasked the search committee with identifying a candidate who would be able to continue the trajectory of excellence in leadership exemplified by Dr. Czech. In Roger Davis, it is clear that the committee has done so,” said Flotte.

Davis joined the medical school community in 1984 as a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund fellow; he was appointed assistant professor in what was then the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1985. In 1990, the same year he was promoted to associate professor and joined the Program in Molecular Medicine, he was named an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His research focuses on the mechanisms by which stress signaling pathways are implicated in a range of diseases. The impact of his work has been immeasurable, including years when his scientific publications have been the most often cited research papers in the world.

Davis has also served as co-chair of the institutional tenure committee for 19 years, which Flotte called “a demonstration of his dedication to service and the highest standards of academic rigor among our faculty.”

A graduate of Queens’ College, Cambridge, Davis was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2002, the same year he was appointed to the H. Arthur Smith Chair. He received the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Scholarship in 2012. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018.

“By every measure—scholarship, service, impact, mentorship, collegiality—Dr. Davis is an exceptional leader and I know I join his many colleagues in the program, on our faculty and around the world in my enthusiasm for his work in this new role,” said Flotte.