October 12, 2016

Candidate for research VP to present Friday

Written by

steven leach INSIDESteven LeachSteven Leach, M.D., and Christopher Brown, Ph.D., will be the next two candidates for the position of vice president of Research to make public presentations. Leach will present 9-10 a.m. Oct.17 in Volker Hall Lecture Room A. Brown will present 9-10 a.m. Oct. 21 in Heritage Hall Room 102.

A national search began this summer after Richard B. Marchase, Ph.D., vice president for Research and Economic Development, announced his intent to retire at the end of 2016. In 2015, UAB received more than $400 million in research grants and contracts and increased its research and development expenditures to $510 million from $430 million the previous year.

The vice president of Research will be responsible for broadening UAB’s research portfolio across the campus and driving strategic planning and research operations that nurture excellent research, scholarship and creative activity by faculty, staff and students. A full description of the position is on the executive search website.


Steven Leach

Leach, who will present Monday, is an attending physician and the director of pancreatic cancer research at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a position he has held since 2014. He also holds an appointment as professor of surgery at Weill-Cornell Medical College.

His current research interests are focused on molecular, genetic and cellular determinants of pancreatic cancer initiation and progression, and he is the 2015 recipient of the National Pancreas Foundation’s Nobility in Science Award.

Leach is editor-in-chief of Current Opinion in Genetics and Development and holds other editorial positions with peer-reviewed journals such as Surgery, Journal of Surgical Research, International Journal of Pancreatology and Annals of Surgical Oncology.

Leach began his academic career as an assistant professor of surgery with Vanderbilt University, where he rose to associate professor before leaving in 2000. Between 2000-2014, he was an associate professor and professor of surgery and oncology with Johns Hopkins University.

He earned his medical degree at Emory University and completed his internship, residencies and postdoctoral fellowship in surgery/ cell biology at Yale University, followed by a fellowship in surgical oncology at MD Anderson.


Christopher Brown

Chris Brown INSIDEChristopher Brown Brown, who will present Friday, is vice president for research for the University of North Carolina System, a position he has held since 2012, and director of the NASA/ North Carolina Space Grant, which he had led since 2006. His research interests are gravitational and space biology, development of technology for space flight and plant physiology.

Brown is a member of the boards of the National Council of Space Grant Directors and the National Space Grant Alliance Board, and he has helped initiate and/or develop space-related programs throughout the state, including the “Adventures of the Agronauts” website for elementary and middle school science education. 

Brown spent much of his academic career at North Carolina State University, rising from adjunct associate professor of botany in 1997 to full research professor of plant biology by 2005. Since 2006 he has been associate faculty with mechanical and aerospace engineering, and he has held an appointment as professor of plant and microbial biology since 2007.

Between 1996 and 2006 he led the university’s NASA Specialized Center for Research and Training in Plant Gravitational Biology as its director or associate director. During much of the same period he was director of the NC Space Initiative for the North Carolina System, an effort to enhance aerospace research, workforce development and commercial activity in the state.

Brown spent six years at Kennedy Space Center as manager and research scientist in the Plant Space Biology Laboratory after earning his doctorate in botany from North Carolina State University and completing postdoctoral training in biochemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Colin S. Duckett, Ph.D., director of research for The University of Michigan's North Campus Research Complex, who is the first of at least four candidates, presented his vision Oct. 11.

As many as two more candidates may make presentations later in the month.