Two renowned SCCP scientists earn national recognition from Society of Toxicology

Published on February 27, 2013 at 3:05 AM · No Comments

Two renowned scientists at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP) have garnered national recognition from the Society of Toxicology (SoT), which named them recipients of two of its individual annual awards. It is the first time these awards have gone to individuals from the same College.

John Lemasters, SCCP professor of drug discovery and biomedical sciences (DDBS), has been named as the recipient of the SOT 2013 Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award, while Rick Schnellmann, chair of the DDBS department, has been named as the recipient of the SOT 2013 Education Award.

The awards will be presented at the 2013 SOT Annual Meeting on March 10, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas.

"We're grateful for the respected standing of our faculty members nationally," said Joseph T. DiPiro, SCCP executive dean. "Their reputations are based on significant contributions to science and education we are proud to claim as part of our College."

Past winners of these awards have included scientists and scholars from the National Institutes of Health, the Mayo Clinic, the Karolinksa Institutet (Sweden), Chiba University (Japan), Heriot Watt University (Scotland), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, and other renowned research institutions.

The SOT has a membership of almost 7,000 from more than 50 countries, and one member is selected annually to win each award.

The distinguished scholar award is presented to an active scientist who has made substantial and seminal scientific contributions to aid in understanding the science of toxicology. The education award is presented to an individual distinguished by the teaching and training of toxicologists, and who has made significant contributions to education in the field of toxicology.

Lemasters is a nationally-known expert on the mitochondrial permeability transition, or MPT, which triggers cell death in many diseases and pathological states. His work enables the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to host an international conference on mitochondria that positions MUSC as one of the foremost research centers on the subject, which is increasingly recognized as the ultimate arbiter of cell fate in response to stress. A world-renowned pioneer in laser scanning confocal microscopy-a powerful research tool allowing the visualization of the functioning of single cells with an unprecedented degree of clarity - Lemasters holds five patents, has edited four textbooks and authored more than 400 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

In addition to serving as full professor in the DDBS department, Lemasters is a South Carolina Center of Economic Excellence Endowed Chair in Advanced Cellular Technologies and director of the Center of Cell Death, Injury, and Regeneration.

Schnellmann is a nationally-known expert on oxidative stress signaling - recently awarded a $10.5 million grant as co-principal investigator of a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Oxidants, Redox Balance, and Stress Signaling. His research is focused on the development of therapeutic agents that prevent cell death and promote cell repair and regeneration. Author of more than 150 scholarly papers and past editor of the prominent Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Schnellmann has been instrumental in MUSC establishing the Center of Economic Excellence in Drug Discovery in Cancer and the Center of Economic Excellence for Medication Safety and Efficacy; new research cores in high throughput screening, metabolomics and confocal microscopy/imaging; and in recruiting five SmartState endowed chairs to the College.

He is recognized for building a strong and consistent legacy of education that recognizes the value of training the next generation of toxicologists, including mentoring more than 40 graduate and postdoctoral fellows in his laboratory as well as host to numerous undergraduate students; establishing independent careers for dozens of junior investigators, and building an internationally-recognized department in drug discovery.

Named MUSC Eminent Scholar in 2007, Schnellmann was named MUSC Distinguished University Professor in 2012. This honor, granted to just 36 educators in MUSC's history, is the highest academic distinction granted by the MUSC Board of Trustees.

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