by Christina Crowe

Rakesh Patel, Ph.D., Division Director, Molecular and Cellular Pathology, has been named the Victor Darley-Usmar, Ph.D., Endowed Professor in Pathology, effective August 31, 2023. The endowment was originally established as the Endowed Professorship in Mitochondrial Medicine and Pathology in 2011 and awarded to Darley-Usmar that year. In 2023 the Board approved a renaming of the endowment to the Victor Darley-Usmar, Ph.D., Endowed Professorship in Pathology to be awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to education, research and administration at UAB.
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Patel started with UAB Pathology as a post-doctoral fellow in 1997 in the lab of Victor Darley-Usmar, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for Research Compliance and Administration, Heersink School of Medicine. He transitioned to research assistant professor before becoming an assistant professor in 2002. Patel was promoted to associate professor in 2005, and professor in 2010. He is the director of the Center for Free Radical Biology, and has secondary appointments in the departments of Anesthesiology, Environmental Health Sciences, and Surgery. In 2017 he was named Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pathology, a role he ceded upon taking over as Division Director in 2023.

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“Dr. Patel has long served this department as a selfless leader and mentor, as well as an expert researcher in free radical biology,” says Gene P. Siegal, M.D., Ph.D., Interim Chair, UAB Pathology. “It is fitting that he hold the endowment in Darley-Usmar’s name, as one of his early mentees. This endowment and its legacy are a tribute to the impact both faculty members have had and will continue to have in the department.” 

Dr. Patel maintains an internationally recognized research program, having engaged in free radical research for more than 20 years, and has published more than 240 articles, reviews, book chapters and editorials. He has organized meetings and symposia focused on oxidative stress and nitric oxide, and multiple forums including co-chairing the Oxygen Radical Gordon Research Conference in 2016. He is a fellow of the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine (SfRBM), from which he received a Mentoring Excellence Award in 2016. He has served on the Editorial Board of FRBM for 15 years; served as Associate Editor for AJP-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, reviews editor for the Nitric Oxide journal between 2015 and 2018, and is currently reviews editor for the Redox Biology Journal.

Dr. Darley-Usmar received his Ph.D. at the University of Essex in England followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Oregon to pursue his interests in the structure and function of mitochondrial proteins in human disease. After a period as a lecturer in Japan and 10 years as a research-scientist at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund in London, he joined UAB in 1995 to establish his own research group in the Department of Pathology. 

In his research program, he has been a thought leader in the field of mitochondrial biology and its contribution to pathology. He has been continuously funded by the NIH since joining UAB and has published over 370 articles. In recognition of these achievements, Darley-Usmar was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine in 2012 where he also served as President.  He was founding Editor-in-Chief for Redox Biology which is the premier journal in this field with a current impact factor of over 10. He was recognized as the UAB Distinguished Faculty Lecturer in 2017.

He has received multiple awards for training and mentoring and has served in numerous leadership roles, including Associate Dean for Post-Doctoral Training and the Director of the Pathology Graduate Program.  He served as Interim Director for MCP twice, Vice-Chair for Research, and Interim Co-Chair for the Department of Pathology before moving to his current position in the Dean’s office as Senior Associate Dean for Research Compliance and Administration in 2017.  In this role he acts as chair of the Executive Risk Oversight Committee for the School of Medicine and works closely with the Compliance and Risk Assurance Office to develop and monitor the school’s risk mitigation plan. In addition he plays a key role in managing research space for HSOM and planning for the future expansion of UAB research programs.