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Claire Fraser Named the Inaugural Dean’s Endowed Professor
Claire Fraser, PhD, was presented with the inaugural Dean’s Endowed Professorship in the School of Medicine on December 7, 2015. The ceremony, which took place in Westminster Hall, also honored Robert E. Fischell, ScD, and his wife Susan R. Fischell for their generous support. The couple funded the professorship but chose not to put it in their names.
“It is because of endowed professorships like this that we can recruit faculty members of great significance to these positions,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine.
Dr. Fraser has played a seminal role in the sequencing and analysis of human, animal, plant and microbial genomes to better understand the role that genes play in development, evolution, physiology and disease. She led the teams that first sequenced the genomes of several microbial organisms, including important human and animal pathogens, and as a consequence helped to initiate the era of comparative genomics. Her current research interests are focused on the structure and function of the human gut microbiota.
Dr. Fischell is a physicist, inventor and holder of more than 200 U.S. and foreign patents on medical devices and spacecraft. With the active assistance of his wife Susan, his inventions have led to the creation of several biotechnology companies. These inventions include a rechargeable implantable pacemaker that can be programmed with radio waves (Pacesetter Systems, Inc., now St. Jude Medical), which he and his team later helped miniaturize, to save even more lives; the implantable insulin pump (now a product of Medtronic MiniMed); numerous coronary stents used to open clogged arteries (IsoStent, Inc., which merged with Cordis, a Johnson & Johnson company); and two feedback systems that provide early warning signs of both epileptic seizures (NeuroPace, Inc.) and heart attacks (Angel Medical Systems, Inc.). In 2005, Dr. Fischell was awarded a $100,000 TED prize to pursue his work on the design of a device to cure migraines without medication. That device (eNeura, Inc.) received FDA approval in May 2014. Dr. Fischell also was a co-inventor on a device to treat epilepsy that received FDA approval in November 2013.