CINCINNATI—James Herman, PhD, has been appointed chair of the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Systems Physiology. The appointment was approved at the Tuesday, Aug. 21 meeting of the UC Board of Trustees.
"I believe Dr. Herman is the ideal person to lead the department due to his outstanding accomplishments as an investigator, academician and administrator and know that he will deliver the required leadership and vision to continue the growth of this still new department,” says Andrew Filak Jr., MD, interim senior vice president for health affairs and dean of the UC College of Medicine.
The Department of Pharmacology and Systems Physiology was created July 1, 2017 by merging the departments of Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics and Molecular and Cellular Physiology. The department includes 26 faculty with a combined $6 million in research revenue for the 2018 fiscal year.
Herman, who also will serve as the Flor Van Maanen Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, has been a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience since joining the college faculty in 2000 from the University of Kentucky. He also served as the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience’s vice chair for basic research.
For the past four years Herman has held the Donald C. Harrison Endowed Chair in Medicine, which he will relinquish with this new role. He will continue to serve as the director of the Neurobiology Research Center within the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, a position he has held since September 2014 when the center was created.
"I am really excited about engaging my fellow researchers and faculty and in helping to create what I view as a new department,” says Herman. "The hope is going forward the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Physiology will take an interdisciplinary approach to making new scientific discoveries. I feel that the study of comorbidities, diseases that occur together in the body, is an area that is ripe for innovation.
"It is increasingly common to see people with more than a single disease. Individuals often battle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel and depression at the same time. As researchers, we have been amazingly good at being able to figure out the impact of an individual disease, but much less is known about how diseases interact.
"What we don’t know is how disease cuts across different bodily systems,” says Herman. "As leaders in the fields of science and medicine, our goal is to understand illness from a whole body point of view, rather than its impact on a single organ.”
Herman currently holds more than $6 million in research funding, including two R01 grants, a Veterans Affairs Merit Award and a T32 grant. His focus has been in the structural, functional and molecular biological principles underlying brain stress integration and affective disease. While his research has been intimately linked with physiology during most of his career, Herman has been involved with brain control of endocrine systems and recent studies involving cardiovascular physiology. He also has had considerable history of collaborations with neuro-pharmacologists as well as consultations with pharmaceutical companies. Herman’s laboratory will continue to be located at the UC Reading Campus.
In 2016, Herman was named a distinguished research professor by UC. He has been an extremely active grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2017, he was named to a four-year appointment to the Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology, Rhythms and Sleep Study Section at the Center for Scientific Review at the NIH. He also has served since 2012 as editor-in-chief of the journal Stress.
Herman received his undergraduate degree in chemistry and psychology from Hobart College in Geneva, New York, and his doctorate in neurobiology and anatomy/neuroscience from the University of Rochester. He later completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Mental Health Institute at the University of Michigan.