School of Medicine and Dentistry Names Puzas to Lead Basic Science Research

May. 17, 2009

J. Edward Puzas, Ph.D., Donald and Mary Clark Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and director of orthopaedic research, today was named senior associate dean for basic science research at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

In his new role, Puzas will work to develop a collaborative environment that encourages interaction between basic science and translational researchers as a way to speed discoveries into treatments for major diseases. Puzas will build on the superb accomplishments of the previous senior associate dean, Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., who recently took over as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

In appointing Puzas to the position, David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, said “Dr. Puzas has been a pillar of the research community at the Medical Center for nearly three decades, and has long been a champion of and role model for interdisciplinary collaborations, not just among scientists from different academic departments, but between clinicians and basic science researchers.”

In 2000, Puzas helped found the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, whose very foundation is built upon a partnership approach between clinicians and scientists from wide-ranging departments including Orthopaedics, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and Medicine (Rheumatology and Endocrinology). Today, the Center is making exciting discoveries that could have profound impact on how we think about and treat such prolific diseases as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, bone fractures and soft tissue injuries.

"Dr. Puzas is an internationally recognized scientist with an impressive research portfolio, and also has been very successful in leading teams of researchers to create the nation’s most highly funded musculoskeletal research center here in Rochester,” URMC CEO Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., said. “These experiences, combined with his deep knowledge of our institution’s scientific enterprise, make him the right leader to continue to build our research efforts.”

In addition to his primary appointment in Orthopaedics, Puzas is also a professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine, Department of Biomedical Engineering Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics (SMD). His major areas of interests are the functioning of bone and cartilage cells in diseases such as osteoporosis, pathologic fracture healing, environmental toxin exposure and its role in skeletal metabolism and the mechanism of cancer cell metastasis to bone.  He has been key player in helping the Department of Orthopaedics rank first nationally in the amount of funding attracted from the National Institutes of Health.

Puzas’ touch reaches far beyond Rochester.  He currently serves as president of the United States Bone and Joint Decade, an organization that is leading a decade-long effort to improve research, public awareness and treatment of bone and joint disorders.  He is a past president of the Orthopaedic Research Society, and has approximately 200 publications in peer reviewed medical literature and in medical text books. 

He has trained and mentored dozens of graduate and medical students, who have gone on to senior positions in academia, government and industry. And he has provided consultation services to the National Institutes of Health, the National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, the Howard Hughes Foundation and a number of societies.  He has also won the Kroc Foundation and Kappa Delta Award prizes for outstanding research in the musculoskeletal field.

Puzas received a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Massachusetts, and earned a M.S. and Ph.D. in Radiation Biology and Biophysics from the University of Rochester. His postdoctoral training was at Yale University in the field of endocrinology.  Since 1978, he has held positions at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Oxford University in England.

“I am truly honored to be asked to assume this position,” Puzas said.  “Having been a faculty member at the University for nearly 30 years, I have come to appreciate the quality, collegiality and real enjoyment of working in our School. I am excited to be able to contribute to these attributes, and advance the basic science research enterprise here.”

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