David A. Morilak, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmacology and director of the Neuroscience discipline of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program is the recipient of the Faculty Senate Administration Leadership Award.
Dr. Morilak also serves as the director for the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience and is the Quincy and Estine Lee Endowed Chair in addition to maintaining a large, highly productive, and well-funded laboratory where he oversees numerous trainees including seven students from the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program.
The Faculty Senate Administration Leadership Award is an award given to an outstanding senior member of the Health Science Center Administration, selected by the Health Science Center Faculty Senate.
The purpose of the award is to provide recognition, and a vote of confidence, from Health Science Center faculty leadership, for outstanding, long-term contributions of a senior member of the Health Science Center Administration that promotes and supports the missions and well-being of the faculty. These endeavors may result in, but are not limited to, enhanced faculty development, enhanced faculty welfare, enhanced communication with faculty governance bodies, committees or organizations, and/or lead to improvements in the teaching, service and research environments of the University so that the faculty members can more effectively achieve their goals.
Daniel Lodge, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, nominated Dr. Morilak for his leadership of the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience, the Neuroscience Discipline of the IBMS, and of a T32 training grant that have all contributed to the success of numerous UT Health San Antonio faculty.
Dr. Lodge explained that for the last decade, Dr. Morilak’s outstanding leadership has enabled UT Health San Antonio faculty to excel in their research and teaching in basic and clinical neuroscience.
Under the leadership of Dr. Morilak, the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience was granted formal Center status as an Organized Research Unit in 2012 and currently represents over 120 faculty members from six basic science and 13 clinical departments in the Medical School, Dental School, School of Nursing, School of Health Professions, Research Imaging Institute, Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, Mays Cancer Center and the Military Health Institute.
“It is a widely inclusive organization serving a diverse and collegial community of neuroscientists, representing the depth and breadth of the field, from membrane biochemistry to neuroimaging and cognitive neuropsychology,” Dr. Lodge said. “CBN researchers and clinicians study the causes and implement the most advanced treatments for diseases of the brain and nervous system.”
Dr. Lodge explains that the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience brings in approximately $45 million annually in NIH grant funding and $75 million in total funding to the Health Science Center which represents 45% of all NIH funding at our institution.
“The significant success of the CBN is due in large part to the leadership abilities of Dr. Morilak,” he said. Because the CBN covers such a wide range of disciplines, Dr. Morilak’s leadership and successful management is instrumental for these faculty with a wider range of expertise to collaborate toward common goals.”
The CBN under Dr. Morilak’s leadership has an important service role because the CBN sponsors an annual retreat and the San Antonio Brain Health Symposium in the fall. It hosts world-class speakers and special lectures, and promotes enrichment and outreach, including the Brain Bowl and other Brain Awareness Week activities. These events not only benefit our faculty and students, but the community at large. Outreach to various groups in the community is additionally sponsored by the CBN to increases public awareness of issues and research in neuroscience.
Dr. Susan Mooberry, professor and Chair of Pharmacology and Greehey Distinguished Chair in Targeted Molecular Therapeutics, said that Dr. Morilak’s commitment to the success of the CBN is also evidenced by his role as the Director of the Neuroscience Discipline in the Integrated Biomedical Science (IBMS) Graduate program. It is a nationally recognized program that has 60-80 applicants per year with a typical matriculation of 6-8 students per year.
“His long-standing efforts and leadership have made this an outstanding discipline in the IBMS with excellence in recruitment, training and in the success of their graduates. These activities have enhanced research, faculty development, teaching and training of our students and fellows, as well as service to the community through outreach,” Dr. Mooberry said.
Dr. Mooberry explained that his long-standing efforts and leadership have made this a premier discipline in the IBMS with excellence in recruitment, training and in the success of their graduates.
“The Neuroscience Discipline has been highly successful in attracting and retaining women (70%) and underrepresented minorities (30%) in this training program,” Dr. Mooberry said. “The graduate success rate is 91% with graduates going to postdoctoral training at notable institutions including Harvard, Stanford, Vanderbilt, John Hopkins, Emory, University of Pittsburgh, and Duke, to name a few.”
To further support the success of the CBN and the Neuroscience Discipline Dr. Morilak is the PI of a long-standing T32 training grant for predoctoral trainees.
“This training grant allows Dr. Morilak and his faculty mentors to recruit high caliber graduate students; develops programs for education and professional development of trainees at all levels,” Dr. Lodge said. “Again, Dr. Morilak’s significant leadership and management skills have facilitated the success of this training grant that add significantly to faculty teaching and research productivity.”
Maria Danet Lapiz Bluhm, Ph.D., RN, MSCI, FAAN, current chair-elect of the Faculty Senate, professor and senator of the School of Nursing and a former postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Morilak’s lab said that the award was a good fit for him because his administrative leadership of the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience are associated with quality programs, activities and improved outcomes.
Dr. Morilak is very passionate about science, especially neuroscience. This enthusiasm is especially apparent in his administrative leadership of the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience (CBN) that he directs,” she said. “He always put his 100% for every endeavor – be it science or administration. It’s no wonder that his nominator (Dr. Lodge) highlighted during the recognition that the nomination not only came from him but from the whole team of faculty who appreciates Dr. Morilak’s leadership.”
Dr. Morilak has been at UT Health San Antonio for 27 years. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and obtained his undergraduate at Muskingum University, a small liberal arts school in rural southern Ohio. He then completed his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Princeton University. Be sure to also read The Pipette Gazette’s “Faculty Spotlight: 9 Questions With Dr. David Morilak” written by neuroscience student Lilianna Espinoza >>