UTHCT researchers, medical professionals note significant achievements

Monday, January 29, 2007

Five faculty members of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler recently were honored for outstanding achievements in their respective fields. Three conduct basic biomedical research: Michael Pangburn, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry; Buka Samten, MD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology; and Barry Starcher, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry. The others are Larry Lowry, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Occupational Health Sciences; and Monique Mills, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics. In addition, Donna Walker, RN, was promoted to nursing education coordinator at UTHSCT.

Dr. Pangburn was elected the next president of the International Complement Society at the 21st International Complement Workshop in Beijing, China, in late 2006. The workshop hosted more than 300 scientists from around the world, all of whom work on the complement system, a part of the immune system that identifies, attacks and kills bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungus.

Dr. Pangburn was one of the founders of the society and had previously served as its treasurer. He has studied the complement system for 30 years, his research funded by numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Pangburn is the Allen B. Cohen Professor of Biomedical Research and the Dr. and Mrs. Jim Vaughn Professor in Biomedical Research.

Dr. Samten and Dr. Starcher were awarded the first Faculty Collegiality Awards on Dec. 11 in recognition of their efforts to help other faculty and staff in their research.

“The awards acknowledge extraordinary commitment to the research community and outstanding collegiality. Drs. Samten and Starcher are easily approachable, help their colleagues, and are known to do that with a smile. Their community and service orientation makes these awards well-deserved,” said UTHSCT Vice President for Research Dr. Steven Idell. Dr. Samten focuses on tuberculosis research. Dr. Starcher is studying the effects of secondhand smoke on skin cancer.

Dr. Lowry was named director of UTHSCT’s Environmental Health Graduate Program. He has developed several new courses for the Master of Science in Environmental Science degree program offered in collaboration with Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.

In addition to his faculty position at UTHSCT, Dr. Lowry is an adjunct professor in environmental sciences at SFA. He is co-director of the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health, which is located at UTHSCT. He is also chair of the Biological Exposure Indices Committee of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

Dr. Mills was selected as a board member of the Texas Pediatric Society Foundation, a public, nonprofit foundation established to support charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes that make a positive contribution to the health, safety, and welfare of children and adolescents. The society is affiliated with the Texas Pediatric Society, the Texas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Mills is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is board certified in pediatrics. Her special interests include child advocacy as well as the evaluation and prevention of childhood obesity.

Before being named nursing education coordinator, Walker was a nurse educator in the Nursing Education and Research Department. In her new position, she will be responsible for educational activities for nursing and clinical support departments.

Walker is board certified in nursing professional development, one of only 1,310 NPD-certified nurses in the United States. Walker, who has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, is also certified as a basic life support training center faculty, a pediatric advanced life support instructor, and an advanced cardiac life support provider. She has served as a clinical research coordinator for the Center for Clinical Research and a staff nurse in the Intensive Care Unit.

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