UNC School of Medicine Celebrates Third Annual Class of Yang Family Biomedical Scholars

The award, which recognizes the research achievements of young tenured faculty, is made possible through a generous donation from Lenovo chairman and CEO Yuanqing Yang with additional financial support from Mr. To Hing Wu. This year’s recipients are Yen-Yu Ian Shih, Louise Henderson, and Jon Juliano.

UNC School of Medicine Celebrates Third Annual Class of Yang Family Biomedical Scholars click to enlarge Louise Henderson, PhD; Yen-Yu Ian Shih, PhD; and Jonathan Juliano, MD
UNC School of Medicine Celebrates Third Annual Class of Yang Family Biomedical Scholars click to enlarge Yuanqing Yang

Media contact: Mark Derewicz, 984-974-1915, mark.derewicz@unch.unc.edu

July 9, 2018

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The UNC School of Medicine has named three researchers as recipients of the third annual Yang Family Biomedical Scholars Award. They are: Yen-Yu Ian Shih, PhD, associate professor of neurology, Louise Henderson, PhD, MSPH, associate professor of radiology, and Jonathan Juliano, MD, MSPH, associate professor of medicine.

Each faculty member will receive a generous grant to be used at their discretion for biomedical research projects at the UNC School of Medicine. The researchers are now members of the Yang Family Society of Biomedical Scholars. The third annual seminar to highlight their work will be held later this year. The awards were made possible through donations from Yuanqing Yang, chair and CEO of Lenovo with additional financial support from Mr. To Hing Wu, an associate to Mr. Yang.

“We are incredibly appreciative of Mr. Yang’s continued support of our most accomplished biomedical researchers,” said William L. Roper, MD, MPH, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health Care. “Drs. Shih, Henderson, and Juliano represent the top tier of innovative research in the UNC School of Medicine and we are proud to include them as our newest Yang Family Biomedical Scholars. Mr. Yang’s generous support allows these young faculty members to pursue novel directions in their research programs at this critical juncture in their careers as they continue to develop national recognition for their contributions.” 

With the Yang Scholars program, the UNC School of Medicine aims to establish a community of its brightest and most promising young tenured faculty. The award recognizes faculty that have made significant scholarly contributions to their field while also receiving national recognition for their research. 

“I am very proud to support the UNC School of Medicine and its researchers selected for this year’s grant,” Yang said. “I believe their dedication to research and progress in their chosen fields will lead the way towards future biomedical breakthroughs to improve human health, and I am excited that UNC-Chapel Hill continues its tradition as a great supporter of such work.”

Shih, who has been at the UNC School of Medicine since 2012, is the director of the Center for Animal MRI and director of the Small Animal MRI Core Facility at the Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC); is a member of the UNC McAllister Heart Institute, the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; and is an adjunct faculty member in the UNC-NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering and faculty member of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Neurobiology Curriculum.

Shih’s laboratory carries out a diversified program of cutting-edge biomedical research in two main areas: understanding the link between brain activity and blood flow, including this link’s relation to stroke progression and understanding the role of stimulating a small population of neurons in the rodent brain. The physiology of such “neurovascular coupling” remains one of the most puzzling questions in both basic and human neuroscience and is at the foundation of the widespread use of function MRI (fMRI) to study the human brain.

His research accomplishments have garnered him a revered national and international reputation. Among his honors are the Ellen Schapiro & Gerald Axelbaum Investigator and Young Investigator Awards from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

Henderson, who joined the UNC School of Medicine in 2009, is a member of BRIC and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is an adjunct associate professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Henderson’s research focuses on the epidemiologic study of imaging-based screening programs, particularly breast cancer screening and lung cancer screening. She is interested in the performance of imaging technologies, comparative effectiveness research, and disparities in cancer screening and treatment. Henderson leads the UNC Carolina Mammography Registry (CMR) and is a key member of the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC), a nationally recognized and acclaimed resource for understanding the delivery, performance, and outcomes of screening mammography. Henderson has made significant contributions to the field of breast cancer screening and the comparative effectiveness of emerging imaging modalities.

Juliano, who came to the UNC School of Medicine as a resident in 2005 and started as an assistant professor in 2011, is a member of the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Team at UNC Hospitals, and is an adjunct associate professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Juliano is widely regarded as a pioneer in the use of next-generation sequencing technologies to study malaria. His use of advanced genetic methodologies to explore the epidemiological and evolutionary factors that shape parasite populations, drive parasite genetic diversity, and allow the parasite to escape control measures has garnered international acclaim.

Prior to Juliano’s work, the diversity of malaria infections was not appreciated. He was the first to use molecular methods to demonstrate that traditional genotyping methods were unable to detect small numbers of co-existing drug-resistant strains of malaria, which could ultimately lead to drug failure. This work had direct impacts on public health policy in Africa, specifically influencing decisions about the re-introduction of chloroquine. When next-generation sequencing tools became available, his group was the first to use targeted next-generation sequencing approaches to characterize the diversity of parasites within individual human hosts and its potential impact on the development of drug resistance and vaccine escape. His work resulted in the development of new, best-in-class bioinformatics pipelines to support analysis of deep sequencing data and policy-relevant insights into drug resistance evolution and the effect of malaria control interventions in Southeast Asia.

Read more about the inaugural class of Yang Family Scholars here and the second class here.

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