Boggess, Pardo-Manuel de Villena tabbed as first Smithies Investigators

Kim Boggess, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD, professor of genetics, were selected as the inaugural Oliver Smithies Investigators, a program created to recognize senior research faculty members at the UNC School of Medicine who have made major contributions within and beyond their disciplines but who have not yet been appointed to distinguished professorships.

Boggess, Pardo-Manuel de Villena tabbed as first Smithies Investigators click to enlarge Kim Boggess, MD, Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD

Selection was based on their sustained excellence in their chosen disciplines, their international reputation as leaders in their fields, and the impact of their research within the medical and scientific communities.

Oliver Smithies Investigators receive an annual monetary award to be used at the discretion of the recipients for their research or professional development. At the time of their appointment new Investigators become members of the Oliver Smithies Society and are expected to serve as mentors to junior faculty.

Dr. Boggess specializes in infectious and inflammatory complications during pregnancy. She was the first researcher to discover the association between maternal oral infections and preeclampsia, a serious condition that can arise during pregnancy. She also studies the inflammatory effects of diabetes and related therapies on mothers and newborns.

Dr. Pardo-Manuel de Villena leads the Collaborative Cross, the most genetically diverse mouse population in the world, which is generated and housed UNC. This project has allowed scientists to create mice with wide genetic diversity, which is comparable to the genetic variation found in humans. This new tool has allowed his lab and others to probe the genetic bases of diseases, such as cancers, like never before.

Oliver Smithies, PhD, a faculty member at UNC for more than 25 years, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2007. He co-discovered a technique he called “gene-targeting,” which allows scientists to study genetic mutations by knocking out specific genes in mice. The method became ubiquitous in basic research labs and opened up a new kind of scientific inquiry into many different diseases.

Each year, Dr. Smithies hosts the annual Oliver Smithies Nobel Symposium at the UNC School of Medicine.

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