Hero Awards augment annual research excellence honorsPublished on Monday, October 5, 2020By: Karen BascomThe University of Mississippi Medical Center recognized the following faculty, staff and students during the 2020 Excellence in Research Awards.Usually, the Office of Research hosts a ceremony honoring the awardees. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they shifted to a video format, distributed through the Medical Center’s research listserv.Summers“COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to recognize the recipients of this year’s awards in new and innovative ways,” said. Dr. Richard Summers, associate vice chancellor for research.Summers praised the “innovation” and “flexibility” demonstrated across campus in 2020.“I have never been more proud of the research community here at UMMC,” he said.The medallions are based on the cumulative amount of extramural funding received for an investigator’s original research. This year, the Office of Research also granted COVID-19 Research Hero Awards, recognizing the unique contributions of faculty, staff and students during the pandemic.UMMC received near-record levels of funding and the most individual grants and awards in its history in fiscal year 2020, despite the challenges of the past several months.“In a time of great uncertainty, our scientists have stepped up to ensure Mississippians are taken care of during this pandemic and has shown the importance of a strong research mission to an academic medical center,” Summers said.Platinum Medallion – $5,000,000 totalDr. Michael Garrett, professor of pharmacology and toxicologyGarrett studies the genetics of complex yet common diseases, such as kidney disease, hypertension and diabetes, in order to find new targets for future drug treatments. He also leads UMMC’s Molecular and Genomics Core Facility.Dr. Celso Gomez-Sanchez, professor of pharmacology and toxicologyGomez-Sanchez studies primary aldosteronism, a common cause of hypertension. Last year, he licensed a series of monoclonal antibodies he developed for diagnosing this condition to a biotechnology company.Dr. Jason Griggs, associate dean for research, School of DentistryProfessor and former chair of the Department of Biomedical Materials Science, Griggs studies the breakage patterns in ceramic and metallic dental implants to find new ways to construct these materials.Dr. Michael Ryan, professor of physiology and biophysicsRyan studies hypertension, kidney and vascular disease in conditions such as lupus and preeclampsia. An associate dean for student affairs in the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences, he also leads programs training young investigators in cardiorenal diseases.Dr. Richard Summers, associate vice chancellor for researchSummers leads UMMC’s research and extramural funding efforts, including clinical and translational research and telehealth applications. Professor and former chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, he has studied cardiovascular disease in that field and mathematical models of physiology. Gold Medallion – $1,000,000 totalDr. Denise Cornelius, assistant professor of emergency medicineDr. Sally Huskinson, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behaviorDr. Seth Lirette, assistant professor of data scienceDr. Jose Miguel-Hidalgo, professor of psychiatry and human behaviorDr. Aimee Parnell, associate professor of pediatrics-cardiologyDr. Rob Rockhold, deputy chief academic officerDr. Damian Romero, professor of cell and molecular biologyDr. Kedra Wallace, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecologyDr. Junie Paula Warrington, assistant professor of neurology Silver Medallion – $500,000 totalDr. Yingjie Chen, professor of physiology and biophysicsDr. Caroline Compretta, assistant professor of preventive medicineDr. Sarah Glover, professor of medicine-digestive diseasesDr. Ritesh Tandon, associate professor of microbiology and immunologyDr. Zhen Wang, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics Bronze Medallion – $250,000 totalDr. Yuanyuan Duan, associate professor of biomedical materials scienceDr. Barbara Gisabella, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciencesDr. William Hillegass, associate professor of data scienceDr. Erin Taylor, instructor of physiology and biophysicsDr. Jorge Vidal, associate professor of microbiology and immunology COVID-19 Research Hero AwardsInformatics: Creation of a COVID-19 registryKrishna Ayyalasomayajula, research informatics analystFremel Backus, intelligence program managerAlex Castillo, executive director of informatics and analyticsAshish Jannela, research informatics analystRamona Sandlin, manager of enterprise information and honest brokers Innovation: Design of an emergency use ventilatorDr. Charles Robertson, associate professor of anesthesiology Clinical trials: Leading the initiation and management of COVID-19 trialsDr. Gailen Marshall, professor of medicine and R. Faser Triplett Chair of Allergy and Immunology Testing: Internal COVID-19 testing and validationDr. John Bates, assistant professor of microbiology and immunologyDr. Sarika Jain, assistant professor of pathologyDr. Patrick Kyle, professor of pathology Internal COVID-19 test kit assembly and volunteering on the front linesUMMC Students View the video slideshows here.