Sept. 24, 2018

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CI director, physiology prof earn national awards; health sciences faculty claims 'Unsung Hero' title

ACS bestows St. George ward to Cancer Institute director  


The American Cancer Society honored Dr. John Ruckdeschel, University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute director, for his work to eradicate cancer and his continuous support of the organization by presenting him with its St. George National Award during a Sept. 20 ceremony in Jackson.

“I am deeply honored by this award,” said Ruckdeschel, professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology. “The ACS has always been there for cancer patients and cancer research. Working with them and for them has been one of the highlights of my career.”

As she presented Ruckdeschel with the award, Letitia Thompson, vice president of cancer control for the ACS South Region, said, "This is the most prestigious award the ACS bestows on volunteers. This national award is given to volunteers who fight to put forth the mission and strategy of the ACS.”

Nominees for the annual award must have served as leaders in their communities and in mission delivery and/or governance in more than one area of focus for a minimum of four continuous years. They must represent the ACS in a manner that advances its cause and expands its community presence.

Citing his 30-plus years of working with the ACS in multiple states, Ruckdeschel said the partnership furthers patient care and help. He commended the ACS for its work on the Hope Lodge currently under construction adjacent to UMMC.

“This is particularly needed in Mississippi because we have so many patients coming from around the state," he said. "Hope Lodge brings together those patients and their families and they can support each other.”

Ruckdeschel has supported ACS efforts in multiple states, including his stints at Johns Hopkins, Harvard and the National Cancer Institute, and his service as director of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit and the Nevada Cancer Center in Las Vegas.


AHA taps UMMC physiology prof for Dustan Award

Barbara Alexander

Dr. Barbara Alexander, professor of physiology and biophysics, received the Harriet Dustan Award at the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension Scientific Sessions meeting Sept. 6-9 in Chicago.

Established in 2008, the award recognizes female scientists who have made outstanding contributions in the field of hypertension.

A member of the Medical Center faculty since 1999, Alexander earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry at UMMC. Her research focuses on fetal programming and developmental insults, including the link between low birth weight and hypertension later in life. In particular, she developed an animal model of intrauterine growth restriction that shares many characteristics with human maternal high blood pressure and preeclampsia.

“These are exciting and growing fields of research that have major implications for prevention of hypertension in future generations and for women’s health,” wrote Dr. John Hall, professor and chair of physiology and biophysics, in his nomination letter for Alexander.

Alexander is also director of basic research for the Mississippi Center of Excellence in Perinatal Research and director of UMMC’s Analytical and Assay Laboratory. She is the second UMMC faculty member to receive the award, following Dr. Jane Reckelhoff, professor and chair of cell and molecular biology, in 2013.


MAIR calls health sciences faculty ‘Unsung Hero’


Dr. Jamil Ibrahim, center, associate professor of health sciences in the School of Health Related Professions, receives the Mississippi Association for Institutional Research’s annual Unsung Hero Award from Carley Dear, MAIR president, while Dr. Ralph Didlake, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, looks on during a recent ceremony at the Medical Center.

A member of the MAIR for 29 years, Ibrahim received the honor in appreciation of his contributions to the organization as a frequent presenter and mentor to MAIR members and for sharing his knowledge and experience with colleagues from other institutions.

Ibrahim also will receive a plaque designating him as an “unsung hero” during MAIR’s annual meeting in March 2019.