Acclaimed Researcher to Head Medical-Scientist Program

January 04, 2001

M. Kerry O'Banion, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed co-director of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry's medical scientist training program.

The M.D./Ph.D. program provides rigorous training in research, basic and clinical medicine, and patient care. It typically lasts 7 to 9 years and prepares physicians for some of the most demanding and rewarding careers available in health care today.

O'Banion, associate professor of Neurobiology & Anatomy and Neurology, will lead the Medical Center's program with Douglas H. Turner, professor, Department of Chemistry.

"This is a very exciting time for the Medical Center, with its new buildings, new faculty and incredible advances in biomedical research," O'Banion said. "Medicine now interfaces with diverse disciplines, including areas such as engineering and chemistry and the new field of genomics-based investigation. I am delighted to be involved in training physician-scientists to be future leaders in biomedicine."

O'Banion was part of a UR research team that was awarded a pioneering patent last April involving the COX-2 enzyme. The research by Donald Young, M.D., Virginia Winn, M.D., Ph.D., and O'Banion, led to a new class of drugs, known as COX-2 inhibitors, which work to ease pain without typical side effects such as stomach pain. Included in this class of drugs is the arthritis medication, Celebrex, the fastest-selling drug in the U.S. in 1999.

After earning undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees from the University of Illinois, O'Banion came to the UR for postdoctoral training in 1987 and began working with Dr. Young as a fellow in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry. Since then, O'Banion has done extensive research in the brain's reaction to injury and disease, with a specific focus on Alzheimer's Disease.

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