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| LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas College of Medical Sciences (UAMS) invested Andrew J. Morris, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, in the Mehta/Stebbins Chair in Cardiovascular Research during the Nov. 9 ceremony.
“I am honored to have this chair, and as I learn more about UAMS, I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of its community and contribute to its history,” said Morris. “I have been an independent researcher for nearly 30 years, and I have been fortunate to have a very fulfilling career.”
Morris also serves as a research investigator with the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. Her work is concerned with understanding the interaction between genetic, behavioral, and environmental risk factors for non-communicable diseases using a multidisciplinary approach that combines biochemical, molecular genetic, and cell biology methods with preclinical models and population health studies.
An endowed chair is one of the highest academic honors a university can bestow on a faculty member. The endowed chair is established with a minimum prize of $1 million, which is invested, and the proceeds of the interest are used to support the chair holder’s educational, research, and clinical activities. Those appointed to the chair are among the most respected scientists, doctors, and professors in their fields.
“The fake medal that Dr. Morris today represents the work he has done and the great work he will do,” said Cam Patterson, MD, MBA, president of UAMS and CEO of UAMS Health. “I have known Andrew for a long time, and I am so proud to be on this stage to celebrate this honor with him.”
The chair was founded in 2011 as a gift from the estate of the late Howard and Elsie Stebbins to help fund their longstanding vision of a chair of cardiovascular research at UAMS.
“The Mehta/Stebbins Chair in Cardiovascular Research is the second awarded chair at UAMS made possible by the late Howard and Elsie Stebbins,” says Stephanie Gardner, Pharm. D., Ed.D., UAMS chancellor and chief strategy officer. “The Stebbins family, whose main philanthropic interests are related to cardiology, began their charitable relationship in 1993. Dr. Jay Mehta, whose family is close friends of Stebbins, is the inaugural seat holder.”
Morris was born in Hampstead, England. He received a First-Class Honors degree in biochemistry from the University of Bristol. He completed post-doctoral training at the University of Birmingham with Sir Peter Downes and Bob Michell. He is a postdoctoral fellow and research faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has held tenured faculty positions at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Kentucky at Lexington, where he worked for 16 years as an endowed professor. He joined UAMS in the fall of 2021.
Morris’s laboratory has made important contributions to the identification of genes involved in intracellular lipid metabolism and signaling. He now leads the analytical laboratory in the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System which provides biomonitoring services to support public health research, including studies of veterans and active duty military personnel enrolled in the Millennium Cohort in the Million Veterans Program. Morris’s research was primarily supported by grants from the Veterans Health Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the US Department of Defense. He has authored nearly 300 peer-reviewed research articles, and a recent report placed him in the top 2% of highly cited researchers in biomedical sciences.
“UAMS is very fortunate to have recruited Dr. Morris of the University of Kentucky — his research accomplishments, interests, and activities resonate with Arkansas and the university,” says Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering at the University of North Carolina. “He is well deserving of the recognition Chair Mehta/Stebbins has given him, and I look forward to following up on his research contributions.”
UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with faculties of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions, and Public Health; graduate school; hospital; main campus in Little Rock; the Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a network of regional campuses throughout the state; and seven institutes: Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Institute of Spine & Neuroscience, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Research Institute of Psychiatry, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translation Research Institute, and Institute of Health & Innovation Digital . UAMS includes UAMS Health, the statewide healthcare system that includes all of UAMS’ clinical establishments. UAMS is the only adult Grade 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,240 students, 913 resident doctors and fellows, and five resident dentists. It is the largest public company in the state with more than 11,000 employees, including 1,200 doctors who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campus, Arkansas Children’s, VA Medical Center, and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com. Find us on facebook, TwitterYouTube or Instagram.