January 30, 2015

Five SOM faculty named inaugural Pittman Scholars

Written by
Five faculty members in the UAB School of Medicine have been named the inaugural James A. Pittman Jr., M.D., Scholars, a new program organized to recognize the contributions of junior faculty and support the recruitment and retention of highly competitive scientists and physician-scientists.

The Pittman Scholars, named for the late James A. Pittman, M.D., longtime dean of the School of Medicine from 1973 to 1992, were nominated by their department chairs based on their research achievements and their potential for continued discovery in the basic or clinical sciences. Pittman is considered a principal architect of the School for his ability to recruit top scientists and physicians to UAB.

"We received 11 outstanding nominations for the inaugural Pittman scholar awards and it was difficult for the committee to select the top 5 awardees,” said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., executive vice dean in the School of Medicine. “This program will help with enhanced recognition of our junior faculty and enable their successful career advancement."

Faculty nominees must be assistant professors who have held that rank for fewer than five years. The Pittman Scholars were selected by the AMC21 Executive Steering Committee. Each scholar will receive $12,500 annually to support their research or scholarly activity.         

The inaugural Pittman Scholars are:

  • André Ballesteros-Tato, Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology. Ballesteros-Tato joined UAB in March 2012 as a postdoctoral fellow and became a faculty member the in November 2012.  He earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology from Universidad Autónoma in Madrid, Spain.  Ballesteros-Tato’s research focus is studying the cellular interaction and the molecular mechanisms regulating memory T cell formation and T follicular helper cell differentiation in models of infection. In 2013, he received the Biogen Idec Foundation Young Investigator Award, a prestigious honor given each year to the most outstanding young immunologist from Spain.
  • Beatriz León Ruiz, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology.  León Ruiz joined the School of Medicine faculty in November 2012 after coming to UAB as a postdoctoral fellow in March 2012. She earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology in 2007 from Universidad Autónoma in Madrid Spain. Her research focuses on defining how T-helper cell type 2 responses are regulated, focusing particularly on the potential role of the different populations of dendritic cells in the induction of allergen-specific effort TH2 responses to common allergens.
  • Lizhong Wang, M.D. Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Research in the Department of Genetics. Wang joined the School of Medicine faculty in May 2012, and holds secondary appointments in the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases Center, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Comprehensive Neurosciences Center. He earned his medical degree in 1988 from China Medical University and his Ph.D. in human molecular genetics from Akita University in Japan in 2002. Wang’s research interests focus on the molecular epidemiology and cancer genetics involved in breast and prostate cancers.
  • J. Michael Wells, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine. Wells joined the UAB faculty in 2012. After earning his medical degree from the University of Texas in 2005, came to UAB in 2006 to complete a residency in pulmonary and critical care medicine and completed a pulmonary fellowship in 2012.  Wells, a clinician-scientist, is now the Walter B. Frommeyer, Jr., Fellow in Investigative Medicine.  His clinical and research interest focus on phenotyping, biomarker discovery, pulmonary vascular disease and the exacerbations of COPD.
  • Adam R. Wende, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pathology in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology. Wende joined the UAB faculty in August 2013. He earned his Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology in 2006 from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. His research focuses on molecular pathways mediating metabolic changes accompanying diabetes, hypertension and exercise training.