Awards and Honors

Read about the latest accolades received by our faculty and trainees.

Dr. Marja M. Hurley has accepted the prestigious invitation of NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins to serve as a new member of its National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) Board of Scientific Counselors. For the next five years as one of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC), Hurley who is also a UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, will evaluate the performance of intramural scientists and the quality of their research programs, an integral part of the overall NIH mission. She will also advise the NIDCR Scientific Director. At UConn School of Medicine and Dental Medicine Hurley serves as professor of medicine and orthopedics as well as associate dean of the Health Career Opportunity Programs at UConn Health.

Dr. Se-Jin Lee, joint-faculty member at UConn School of Medicine and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, has been awarded a 2020 International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) Award for his out of this world “mighty mice in space” research which included collaboration with UConn School of Medicine co-researcher and wife Dr. Emily Germain-Lee, who has a joint appointment with Connecticut Children’s. The honor, bestowed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS), NASA, and the American Astronautical Society, awards individuals like Lee who have pushed the boundaries of space-based research. The December 2019 mission sending Lee’s genetically engineered mice successfully to the International Space Station charted new frontiers in muscle and bone research. Its compelling scientific results in biology and medicine not only gained research insights into the physiological impacts of long-term spaceflight in astronauts but also for the future enhanced treatment of patients on Earth with degenerative muscle or bone diseases and wasting conditions associated with ailments like cancer and AIDS. Lee is also Presidential Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Genome Sciences at UConn.

Thomas Babor, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences at UConn School of Medicine, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the historic Charles University in the Czech Republic on October 6. The University, established by charter in 1348 by Charles the Fourth, the Bohemian king who was also the Holy Roman Emperor at the time, only honors a few academics a year with degrees of Doctor Honoris Causa. Interestingly, the ceremony was conducted in Czech, Latin and English and played the national anthems of each of the degree recipients. Charles University bestows honorary doctorate degrees upon those like Babor who are able to demonstrate a national/international profile for innovation, publication and enterprise in teaching supplemented by a record of research achievement or highly ranked scholarly publications. “In my acceptance speech I described my enormous gratitude for the honor, as well as my pride in being a third generation Czech and Slovak American,” shared Babor. ”I also described my research on the alcohol dependence syndrome, alcoholism treatment and alcohol policy in the context of a growing global infrastructure in addiction science including the development of a Department of Addictology at Charles University, with which I have collaborated for more than 20 years.”

Nathan Gasek and Blake Torrance UConn Center on Aging graduate assistants, enrolled in the UConn MD/Ph.D. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences training programs, respectively are winners of 2021 American Foundation for Aging Research (AFAR) scholarships. The Diana Jacobs Kalman/AFAR Scholarships for Research in the Biology of Aging aim to give students the chance to learn more about the field of aging research, as well as increase their understanding of the challenges involved in improving the quality of life for older people. The program gives students $5,000 scholarships each to conduct a three-to-six-month research project. With his mentor Dr. Ming Xu, Gasek will be “Examining p21High Senescent Cell Accumulation in Alzheimer’s Disease Pathogenesis,” while Torrance with his mentor Dr. Laura Haynes will be “Investigating the Role of the Senescent Environment in Shaping T cell Immunity following Influenza Vaccination.” This year UConn was the only institution to receive two Diana Jacobs Kalman/AFAR Scholarships.