The year 2014 has been a memorable one for James Herman, PhD. In addition to being instrumental in the formation of the Neurobiology Research Center at the UC Neuroscience Institute and serving as its first director, Herman has been awarded the Donald C. Harrison Endowed Chair in Medicine in recognition of his outstanding contributions to neuroscience research.
Herman, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, is based at UC’s Reading Campus. His research focuses on stress pathways to the brain with particular emphasis on how stress contributes to psychiatric and neurologic pathologies (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease).
The Donald C. Harrison Endowed Chair in Medicine was established in 2008 by Donald Harrison, MD, senior vice president and provost for health affairs from 1986 to 2002. Randy Seeley, PhD, former professor of internal medicine in the division of endocrinology, previously held the chair.
"I would like to express my personal thanks to Dr. Harrison for his thoughtful gift to the University of Cincinnati,” says Herman. "It’s my intent to honor his generosity by continuing to perform cutting-edge basic research aimed at improving treatment, prevention and diagnosis of stress-related diseases.”
"Dr. Herman is the ideal faculty member to receive this endowed chair,” says Melanie Cushion, PhD, senior associate dean for research in the College of Medicine. "His research has made a significant impact in the area of stress, which has translated into national and international stature.
"Besides excellence as an investigator, he is a thoughtful and supportive mentor to many graduate students and younger faculty,” Cushion adds. "The College of Medicine is very fortunate to have such a successful and respected faculty member.”
Endowed chairs allow departments to recognize the work of excellent professors who are already part of the faculty, or create new programs and positions in areas of potential growth. They are a secure source of funding during times of financial change, or through the ebb and flow of national research funding.
Endowed chairs can honor donors or organizations, enabling the College of Medicine to provide enduring recognition for a gift. Unlike a donation to a general fund, endowed chairs provide permanent support for a faculty position. Approximately 5 percent of the fund’s market value is awarded each year to serve the purpose of the endowment.
Currently, the College of Medicine has a total of 71 functioning endowed chairs in place, with another 11 in the process of being funded, according to Mike Zenz, executive director of development and alumni affairs for the College of Medicine.
The UC Neurobiology Research Center was created in September 2014 as the 11th Center of Excellence within the UC Neuroscience Institute, a partnership of the College of Medicine and UC Health. Its goal, Herman says, is to create and nurture relationships between basic and clinical research, with a translational (bench to bedside) emphasis.