Charter LEAD group graduates

By Lin Lofley

Drs. Elisabeth Martinez, Tae Chong, J. Gregory Fitz, and Tracey Wright at the LEAD graduation.
Drs. Elisabeth Martinez, Tae Chong, J. Gregory Fitz, and Tracey Wright at the LEAD graduation.

The Leadership Emerging in Academic Departments (LEAD) program graduated its first cohort of faculty members recently, with top campus leadership on hand, including Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern Medical Center, and a number of department chairmen and division chiefs.

Thirty-one faculty members earned certificates of program completion, with five winning Dean’s Capstone Recognition Awards for their projects. The awards, along with a check for $500 to each winner, were presented by Dr. J. Gregory Fitz, Executive Vice President, Provost, and Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School, who attended almost all of the project presentations and commended the graduates for outstanding work across the board.

“We could very easily have presented 15 or 20 awards,” Dr. Fitz said. “The quality was that impressive.”

Winning the inaugural Dean’s Capstone Recognition Awards were: Dr. Tae Chong, Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery; Dr. Sarah Gualano, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine; Dr. Oren Guttman, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Management; Dr. Elisabeth Martinez, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology; and Dr. Tracey Wright, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

Dr. Martinez, a member of the faculty since 2005 whose research interests include deregulation of transcriptional pathways in cancer and the epigenetic control of gene expression, considered a number of ideas before settling on her Capstone project after identifying a need she discovered in her own laboratory.

“My lab was expanding, so I hired some new people,” Dr. Martinez said. “But hiring more people required backing up more computer stations and data to the department server, and we discovered that it wasn’t so simple because of limited storage space and concerns about data security.

“So I interviewed principal investigators in the Department of Pharmacology and, with the assistance of Leonard Archer, IT supervisor in pharmacology, we surveyed what PI’s really need and created a prototype for how to meet these data storage needs with current school and state resources, supplemented with potentially new capabilities with an eye to future growth.”

In recognizing Dr. Martinez’s project, Dr. Fitz said, “I think you can see that this is not just basic science.”

In addition to the award winners, faculty members from the following departments completed the LEAD program:

  • Dr. Alto is a Rita C. and William P. Clements Jr. Scholar in Medical Research.
  • Dr. Fitz holds the Nadine and Tom Craddick Distinguished Chair in Medical Science, and the Atticus James Gill, M.D., Chair in Medical Science.
  • Dr. Schneider holds the Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiac Research.
  • Dr. Wan is a Virginia Murchison Linthicum Scholar in Medical Research.
  • Dr. Zigman holds the Mr. and Mrs. Bruce G. Brookshire Professorship in Medicine, and the Diana and Richard C. Strauss Professorship in Biomedical Research.