9 faculty elevated to Distinguished, University professorships

By Samil Baker

Nine faculty were honored for exceptional achievement and contributions by The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees during their meetings in April and June 2023. Distinguished Professor recognizes achievement in a single field; University Professor is the appropriate designation for individuals whose work is more interdisciplinary in nature.

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Ravi Bhatia, M.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the Heersink School of Medicine Division of Hematology and Oncology. Bhatia joined UAB in 2015 as professor and director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology; he currently serves as the Martha Ann and David L. May Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and director of the UAB Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Cell Therapy Program. He also is a senior scientist at the Civitan International Research Center, chair of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Strategic Planning Committee and the director of the Stem Cell Program in the Heersink School of Medicine.

Bhatia’s primary investigational interests surround chronic myeloid leukemia pathogenesis, treatment, and drug resistance mechanisms and consequences. He is the author of nearly 200 published manuscripts and book chapters in many of the highest-profile journals in his field and has delivered 29 talks in the United States and abroad.

Bhatia has been recognized by election to the American Association of Physicians, the American Clinical and Climatological Association, and as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Medical and Scientific Advisory Board. In addition, Bhatia has received numerous academic awards and honors, including the Janet Rowley Prize of the International CML Foundation and the UAB Department of Medicine’s Max Cooper Award for Career Excellence in Research.

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Heith Copes, Ph.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Department of Criminal Justice. Copes joined UAB in 2001 as an assistant professor in the former Department of Justice Sciences and currently serves as professor and director of the Criminal Justice Honors Program in the Department of Criminal Justice.

Copes’ research focuses on criminal decision-making and the intersection of personal identity with crime and drug use. He has written one book, four ethnographic photo essays, six edited volumes, 35 book chapters and 111 articles in refereed journals, such as Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Journal of Criminal Justice Education, the British Journal of Criminology and the European Journal of Criminology. Copes has given 45 talks in the United States and abroad, has more than 6,000 citations in Google Scholar, and is ranked among the most cited authors in the criminal justice field. He has been a visiting and guest professor at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law; University of Queensland; University of South Wales; University of Oslo; Aalborg University; and the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research at Aarhus University.

Copes has received numerous academic awards and honors, including the MacNamara Award for Outstanding Journal Publication and the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, UAB’s Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction, the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship. He is currently the co-editor of the prominent journal Deviant Behavior.

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Craig Elmets, M.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the Heersink School of Medicine Department of Dermatology. Elmets joined UAB in 1997 as chair of the Department of Dermatology and currently serves as a professor in several departments, including Dermatology, Pathology, Surgery and Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health. He also is a senior scientist at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and the Comprehensive Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, Bone and Autoimmunity Center.

Elmets’ research focuses on environmental influences on the skin and the immune system, the immunogenicity of topically applied chemical carcinogens, and skin cancer chemoprevention. Among his discoveries has been the identification of the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib as a remarkably effective chemopreventive agent for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. He has achieved consistent funding throughout his time at UAB, including current grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Elmets has an issue of Photochemistry and Photobiology dedicated to him and has served on the editorial board for Photodermatology, Photoimmunology and Photomedicine since 1990.

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Denise A. Gainey, DMA, was named Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Music. Gainey joined UAB in 2002 as an associate professor and currently serves as professor and associate chair in the Department of Music. She also is the chapter advisor for UAB’s National Association for Music Education and the professional music sorority Eta Lamba Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma.

Gainey is a clarinetist, soloist, duettist and chamber musician performing with the Amicitia Duo, the Shepherd Duo and the UAB Chamber Trio. She is a Backun Artist/Clinician, a Légère Reeds Endorsing Artist, a Silverstein PRO-Team Artist and Educational Recording Artist for Carl Fischer Music. Her work has resulted in a compiled and edited collection of clarinet solos, a published book, 13 world premieres, 15 performances as a soloist with concertos, 35 performances as a chamber music clarinetist, 44 clinics and 68 solo performances, and recordings available through Naxos, Ravello Records and Potenza Music. Gainey is a member and immediate past-president of the International Clarinet Association.

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Peter S. Hendricks, Ph.D., was named University Professor in the School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior. Hendricks joined UAB in 2010 as an assistant professor and currently serves as professor and director of Research in the Department of Health Behavior.

Hendricks’ research focuses on substance abuse treatment and prevention, hallucinogenic therapy, and novel treatments for tobacco, cocaine and polysubstance dependence. He has been awarded five National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse grants as principal investigator with direct costs exceeding $9 million and five NIH/NIDA grants as co-investigator. He also was awarded a $1 million industry grant from Diamond Therapeutics and additional funding from Journey Colab. He is the PI of the first studies of psilocybin (a psychedelic found in a genus of mushrooms) in treating cocaine use disorder, fibromyalgia and demoralization.

Hendricks has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, including papers in the Journal of the American Medical Association (impact factor 157.3), Pharmacological Reviews (impact factor 25.5), Addiction, the Journal of Addiction Medicine and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. His h-index is 33, and his i10-index is 54, with 3,504 citations. Hendricks’ work is widely recognized in multiple media outlets, including National Geographic, The Economist, Business Insider, New York Times, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Scientific American, Vogue, and in Michael Pollan’s bestseller, “How to Change Your Mind.” He was recently named the first editor-in-chief of the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publication Psychedelic Medicine; he has provided keynote addresses on this topic nationally and internationally, including at the FDA and several leading institutions.

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Jeffrey D. Kerby, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, was named Distinguished Professor in the Heersink School of Medicine Department of Surgery. Kerby joined UAB in 2003 as an associate professor of surgery and currently serves as the Brigham Family Endowed Professor in Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, director of the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, and professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Kerby’s clinical interests include trauma, critical care and emergency general surgery. His research focuses on interventional trials in the pre-hospital emergency care setting and the effect of blood storage age on outcomes in trauma patients. He has developed and implemented numerous clinical programs at UAB, including the Air Force Pararescue Special Operations Trauma Skills Sustainment program (renamed the Special Operations Center for Medical Integration and Development) and the Trauma and Emergency Medicine Training Program. He expanded the Division of Trauma, Burns and Surgical Critical Care to the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, established the Comprehensive Inpatient Wound Program, and redesigned the Surgical Intensive Care Unit.

Kerby has been published in 166 peer-reviewed journals, six books and chapters, with more than 40 lectures and presentations at national and international meetings. He maintains an active membership in 15 professional societies and leadership in the American College of Surgeons, where he serves as chair of the Committee on Trauma. Kerby is a trauma surgery consultant for the United States Air Force Special Operations Command and the Office of Emergency Medical Services at the Alabama Department of Public Health.

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Farah D. Lubin, Ph.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the Heersink School of Medicine Department of Neurobiology. Lubin joined UAB in 2009 as an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology and currently serves as the first holder of the Triton Endowed Professorship in Neurobiology. She also is the director of the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Neuroscience Roadmap Scholar Program and co-director for Research of the IRACDA-MERIT Program.

Lubin’s research investigates the molecular and genetic basis of learning, memory and its disorders. NIH grants have steadily funded her work since 2002, with NIH R01 funding through 2026. Lubin’s scholarly contributions include published works in 63 peer-reviewed journals, four book chapters, numerous lectures and presentations at national and international conferences, and more than 4,600 citations with an h-index of 31-34.

Lubin has earned numerous awards, including the Becky Trigg Outstanding Woman UAB Faculty Member award, the UAB Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship, the UAB President’s Diversity Champion Award, a Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH/NIMH) and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Award. She is chair of the American Epilepsy Society Board of Directors Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and co-chair of the HSOM Black/African-American Faculty Association.

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Jean-François Pittet, M.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. Pittet joined UAB in 2010 as a professor in the departments of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine; Surgery; and Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology. He currently holds the David Hill Chestnut Endowed Professorship in Anesthesiology and is the director of Organ Injury and Trauma Research.

Pittet’s clinical interests include critical care medicine and perioperative medicine. His lifelong research has focused on critical illness, sepsis and molecular mechanisms of acute lung injury. His collaborative work has uncovered a seminal finding that pneumonia induces the production of cytotoxic-like prion proteins that induce neurologic dysfunction and injury. The National Institutes of Health has funded him for close to 30 years. He has served as principal investigator or co-investigator on various NIH grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, as well as from the Department of Defense, the National Trauma Institute and the American Lung Association.

Pittet has many publications, including 266 peer-reviewed papers in PubMed, 113 peer-reviewed basic science research papers, 102 articles in clinical research, 44 review articles, 20 book chapters and 18 editorials. Since 2016, he has been editor-in-chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia, a top journal in the field of anesthesiology, critical care and pain medicine.

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Martin E. Young, D.Phil., was named Distinguished Professor in the Heersink School of Medicine Department of Medicine. Young joined UAB in 2009 as an associate professor and currently serves as professor and the Jeanne V. Marks Endowed Chair of Cardiovascular Disease, as well as associate director/senior scientist in the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center. He also is director of the Basic and Translational Science in Heart Failure T32 Program and co-director of the Comprehensive Cardiovascular Center.

Young’s research focuses on the circadian clock’s role in regulating skeletal and cardiac muscle function. He has presented over 120 invited lectures, has written more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and has seven book chapters to his credit. He is an active reviewer for multiple prestigious journals and National Institutes of Health study sections and has successfully obtained research funding with numerous NIH grants.

Young is the recipient of six UAB Argus Awards as Best Lecturer for Fundamentals and the UAB Max Cooper Award for Research Excellence. He has been an active member of the American Heart Association since 2001 and serves on the Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Council. He is an American Association of Medical Chronobiology & Chronotherapy Board member and an active Southern Society for Clinical Investigation member since 2011. Young also serves on the Department of Medicine Promotion and Tenure Committee and the School of Medicine Student Academic Standing Committee.

The rank of Distinguished Professor is a campuswide appointment that recognizes international accomplishments to confer richly deserved prestige and honor on those selected to receive this designation. The rank of University Professor is a campuswide appointment prestigious primarily in a specific discipline and confers an academic rank that transcends departmental and disciplinary lines; the goal is to allow each designated individual the greatest latitude in teaching, writing and scholarly research. Review the criteria online.