Faculty Of The Year AwardThe College of Medicine has announced a new annual departmental Faculty of the Year award. This is an opportunity for each department to acknowledge a faculty member for clinical, teaching, and research activities and allows the College to recognize our many outstanding faculty members.
I am pleased to announce Mary Jo LaDu as the 2013 Anatomy and Cell Biology Faculty of the Year. Mary Jo has had a remarkably productive year that, as is often the case, was the culmination of years of overcoming challenges. Some years ago, she recognized that a major barrier to developing therapies in Alzheimer's Disease (AD) was the lack of suitable animal models. Moreover, there was little or no work that considered the impact of a major risk factor for AD, ApoE isoform. Generating the tools and reagents needed to overcome these challenges was an audacious decision and in many ways a risky one. However, the results of the past year show that her gamble has paid off in a big way and she has achieved the major milestones established years ago. These results include seven substantial publications in top journals, two of which were selected as the paper of the week by Journal of Biological Chemistry. She also developed intellectual property in the form of patents and licenses that were commericialized in the past year. This was in addition to receiving a new grant from the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Fund and acting as the PI on a unique multi-institution program project grant from the National Institute of Aging on ApoE, which has raised the profile of UIC and the department in the Alzheimer's disease research community.
Briefly, she developed a new animal model for study of pathogenesis in AD, EFAD transgenic mice, that replicates major stages in the disease process and takes into consideration the differential effects of ApoE isoforms, where ApoE4 dramatically increases AD risk and ApoE2 reduces risk. To validate this model, her group had to develop new reagents, such as the MOAB-2 monoclonal antibody, and associated assays that would allow characterization of disease progression. She proceeded to then demonstrate the value of these reagents and assays as biomarkers of AD progression, addressing a major need in the field.
Concurrent with these research activities, Mary Jo has maintained a full slate of service commitments. Her service activities in the department include committee memberships and interviewing applicants for both graduate and medical school. She has been particularly active at the College of Medicine and University level where she has represented the faculty on multiple committees including the COM Executive Committee, the Faculty Senate, the Faculty Academic Advancement Committee, and the admissions committees for both the COM and the MSTP program. Nationally, she has served on multiple editorial boards and review panels. Finally, Mary Jo contributed to our teaching mission through lecturing and laboratory in the Medical Tissue and Cell Biology course as well as teaching in graduate school courses.
In sum, Mary Jo has made numerous contributions to our department, the College and the University. This was a year in which she her efforts came to fruition, reaping the reward of many years of hard work. For this reason, she is our Anatomy and Cell Biology Faculty of the Year. Join me in congratulating her on a great year.
-- Dr. Scott Brady, Head Dept of Anatomy & Cell Biology