Those walls were physically separating
three labs, but they symbolize a larger vision she has to take the
Department of Environmental Health to the top.
"I believe a successful research
department is driven by vibrant--almost palpable--energy that starts
with the constant sharing of ideas," explains Dr. Ho, who was appointed
chair of the department effective Oct. 1, 2005. "By eliminating the
barriers between the experimental labs, we're not just opening the door
to conversation among faculty. We're taking the first step toward
putting the department's research on a new trajectory."
Her new direction involves a five-year
plan to introduce a "systems biology" approach at all levels of
research and teaching. The system will combine new technologies--such
as the use of toxicogenomics, proteomics and metabolomics to identify
biomarkers--and advanced environmental health medicine.
By adopting an energetic approach to
research and teaching, she believes that through basic science and
translational research the department will develop better ways to
reduce injuries and diseases associated with negative environmental
"Many of UC's environmental health
researchers have already established reputations as national and
international leaders," says Dr. Ho. "Now I want to work on modernizing
our methods and equipment so we can secure future funding and
reinvigorate departmental growth."
Dr. Ho says successful environmental
health departments must do three things effectively: research the
functional mechanisms of environmental health that will help others
understand human health and disease, apply those findings to clinical
practice to improve community health, and teach these principles to the
next generation of environmental researchers.
"Dr. Ho has the vision necessary to
elevate our existing research capabilities, improve student education
opportunities and establish influential multidisciplinary research
collaborations across our campus and with other academic institutions,"
says David Stern, MD, College of Medicine dean.
Dr. Ho joins UC from the University of
Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School, where she served as professor of
surgery, cell biology and physiology. She also held key leadership
positions, including vice chair of research and director of both
urologic research and translational research. She also served as
co-director of the genitourinary oncology program at the UMass Cancer
Prior to her work at UMass, Dr. Ho spent
13 years at Tufts University, where she was a professor of biology and
then associate dean for research. She also had served as an assistant
professor of biology at Boston University. Dr. Ho, who has published
more than 121 scientific articles, completed both her doctoral and
undergraduate training at the University of Hong Kong.