Basic Research Dean Named at School of Medicine and Dentistry

February 15, 2007

Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., Dean’s Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, has been named senior associate dean for basic research at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. 

The senior associate dean for basic research is charged with fostering a research environment that drives scientific breakthroughs, supports multi-disciplinary collaboration and translates basic science into new treatments for major diseases.

“I am very pleased to be able to announce Dr. Dewhurst’s appointment because he is a successful, veteran researcher who is highly respected by his peers, as well an award-winning educator,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. The appointment was announced today, pending approval by the University of Rochester Board of Trustees, and would become effective as of March 1, 2007.

Dewhurst earned his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1987, followed by postdoctoral training at Columbia University and the Harvard School of Public Health. His doctoral and postdoctoral work focused on the mechanisms by which HIV and related viruses cause disease. He joined the faculty of the University of Rochester Medical Center in 1990, became Dean’s Professor of Microbiology & Immunology in 2002 and associate chair of that department in 2005.

Dewhurst has more than 20 years experience as a molecular virologist, developing novel methods for the delivery of experimental HIV and herpes vaccines. He also made key discoveries as part of a team that in October 2006 received a $7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop experimental drugs against neuroAIDS, the nerve damage caused by HIV infection that lessens many patients’ ability to think and move.

Dewhurst has served on several NIH special emphasis and regular grant review panels, and is a former study section chair for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He is a member of the NIH Recombinant Advisory Committee (RAC), which oversees all gene therapy studies in humans, and is chair of the University of Rochester Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). 

Dewhurst is also an accomplished mentor, having received the Graduate Student Society Faculty Teaching Award in 1996 and the Graduate Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Education in 2001. He serves as director of the UR Post-Baccalaureate Research and Education Program (PREP), which provides training in microbiology and immunology for under-represented minority students. He is also the current PI of a NIH-funded pre-doctoral training program in HIV-1 research, as well as the former director of the BIO REU program for undergraduate summer students.

“Given his obvious leadership abilities and knowledge of this institution, Dr. Dewhurst is the right individual to take basic research, a cornerstone of the scientific enterprise in Rochester, to the next level,” said Bradford Berk, M.D. Ph.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and Strong Health.

Dewhurst is to replace Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., who left the post to become executive dean of the School of Medicine at Georgetown University, starting in April.

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