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Richard Morrison receives endowed chair

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LITTLE ROCK -- Richard P. Morrison, M.D., today became the inaugural recipient of the Chair in Sciences Basic to Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Morrison was named professor and chairman of the UAMS Department of Microbiology and Immunology Sept. 1.

“When Dr. Morrison arrived at UAMS, he brought with him an accomplished history in microbiology and immunology research,” said I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., UAMS chancellor. “I am confident that many important discoveries still lie ahead for Dr. Morrison, and we are honored that he has agreed to share his knowledge and expertise with us at UAMS.”

“Dr. Morrison is a gifted scientist and an outstanding addition to UAMS' faculty,” said Debra Fiser, M.D., dean of the UAMS College of Medicine. “We are fortunate that he has made Arkansas his new home and look forward to working with him as he continues his important research into infectious diseases.”

Harlan D. Caldwell, Ph.D., senior investigator and chief of the Laboratory of Intercellular Pathogens at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also took part in the ceremony. “I have had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Morrison as a colleague, collaborator and friend,” Caldwell said. “I have gained the greatest degree of respect for him as a scientist and person and am certain he will be an outstanding leader and mentor to the faculty and students of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UAMS.”

Morrison received his undergraduate and master of sciences degrees from Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman, Mont., and his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Oklahoma. He performed postdoctoral research in infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont., where he also served as a staff scientist for several years.

His academic career began in 1994 and included faculty positions at MSU and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Prior to joining UAMS in September 2007, he was professor of medicine and microbiology at UAB.

Morrison's research career has primarily focused on immunity to microbial pathogens, and for the past 20 years he has studied diseases caused by the bacterial pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis. His research achievements have led to seminal discoveries in the fields of chlamydial pathogenesis and immunology. Funding for his research, which was recently renewed through 2010, comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Research honors include the NIH Award of Merit and the Wiley Award for Meritorious Research. In 1994, he became an elected fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology. He is editor for the journal Infection and Immunity and serves on the editorial board of Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.

An endowed chair is the highest academic honor that can be bestowed by a university on its faculty. The first named chair was established in England in 1502, when Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, established the Lady Margaret Professorships of Divinity at Oxford and Cambridge. An endowed chair at UAMS is supported with designated gifts of $1 million or more. A donor may name a chair in memory of a loved one or to honor a person's accomplishments.

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