By Michael Haederle

UNM Health Sciences Faculty Members Honored at Excellence in Research Awards Ceremony

Six University of New Mexico Health Sciences faculty members have been honored with UNM’s 15th annual Excellence in Research Awards.

The scientists received the awards in a Nov. 16 ceremony held at the Domenici Center for Health Sciences Education. Each was nominated by their peers, said Hengameh Raissy, PharmD, interim vice president for research, Health Sciences, who hosted the awards ceremony.

“These awards remind us the importance of research as we advance science and train the next generation of the scientists,” Raissy said. “This award ceremony allows us to recognize individuals from the research spectrum – we have awardees representing each stage of research, from basic and pre-clinical to clinical trial and population science to implementation.”

These awards remind us the importance of research as we advance science and train the next generation of the scientists.
Hengameh Raissy, PharmD, Interim Vice President for Research, UNM Health Sciences

Douglas Ziedonis, MD, PhD, executive vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System, welcomed the awardees and congratulated them on their recognition. “This is an important mission area,” he said. “It’s advancing health equity.”

The awards were presented in six categories.

Lee Anna Cunningham, PhD, a professor in the Department of Neurosciences, received the Team Science award. She has helped to plan, establish and guide center-level programs at UNM Health Sciences, including two Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) P20 grants funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the New Mexico Alcohol Research Center P50 grant funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Dusanka Deretic, PhD, a professor in the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, won the Basic Science award for her study of retinal photoreceptor cell biology, in particular the molecular mechanisms underlying rhodopsin trafficking and rod outer segment (ROS) membrane renewal in particular.

Annette Crisanti, PhD, a psychiatric epidemiologist in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, received the Population Science Research award. Her research focuses on increasing access to behavioral health services for individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorders, with the long-term goal of improving population health outcomes.

Katherine Zychowski, PhD, an assistant professor in the College of Nursing, received the Junior Faculty Research award. She is a nationally recognized expert on inflammation caused by inhaled dusts from mining operations and other sources of air pollution, such as wildfires.

Michelle Harkins, MD, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and chief of the Division of Pulmonology, received the Clinical Science award. Harkins has led UNM’s COVID-19 clinical trials and has published a dozen COVID-related articles, with several in high-impact journals such as JAMA and Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

James Nawarskas, PharmD, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy, received the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning award. He has been honored multiple times with the Teacher of the Year and pioneered evidence-based active learning methods long before they gained widespread popularity.

Categories: College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, Research, School of Medicine, Top Stories