Maryland Commerce Supports Eight Research Professorships at 5 Colleges and Universities

Including Mt. St. Mary’s University and Hood College.

BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Department of Commerce; Johns Hopkins University; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, College Park; Mount St. Mary’s University; and Hood College have endowed a total of $15.8 million in eight new research professorships. The endowments were made through the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative (MEI), a state program created to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields at the colleges and universities. The schools raised a combined $9 million in private funding for each chair and Maryland Commerce approved matching grants of $6.8 million to support the endowments.
“Maryland is often hailed as one of the most innovative states in the country, thanks in no small part to the groundbreaking research at our first-rate colleges and universities. These endowments will continue to support that important work,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “This program, now in its fourth year, has endowed more than $31 million to help academic institutions make advances a diverse range of fields including cybersecurity, tissue engineering, drug delivery and theoretical computer science.”
Johns Hopkins University received $800,000 for the Endowed Fund in Honor of Marcella E. Woll, which will fund age-related macular degeneration research in Dr. Laura Ensign’s lab. In particular, Dr. Ensign is focused on developing a topical gelling eye drop that can be administered by the patient, thereby removing barriers to administration of vision-preserving drugs that require a clinical visit with a specialist.
“We are thrilled that MEI and the Maryland Department of Commerce have chosen to invest in the promising research of Dr. Laura Ensign, an outstanding early-career researcher overseeing a highly collaborative nanomedicine research program,” said Denis Wirtz, vice provost for research at Johns Hopkins University. “Dr. Ensign has already developed several platforms for overcoming biological barriers to improve delivery of drugs to target cells and tissues, and she is launching two start-up companies in this year alone. Together with the Endowed Fund in Honor of Marcella E. Woll, we anticipate that this professorship will expedite her trajectory as she translates novel drug delivery technologies.”
The University of Maryland, Baltimore, received two awards—one for its School of Medicine and one for its School of Dentistry.
The School of Medicine received approximately $1.5 million for the James and Carolyn Frenkil Dean’s Professorship Fund, which will support the work of two professors: James Kaper, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmacology. Discoveries made by these professors will bring increased grant funding for research programs and provide new opportunities for commercialization and new therapies, resulting in additional revenue sources for the institution.
“Endowed professorships provide our outstanding faculty members with the critical resources they need to sustain and expand the promising research they endeavor to carry out, while at the same time enabling them to launch new initiatives to educate and train future physicians, said E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.  “Professorships are an exceptionally effective tool in retaining and recruiting the best and the brightest.”
The School of Dentistry received a $1.5 million award to endow the Frederick G. Smith, MS, DDS, and Venice K. Paterakis, DDS, Professor in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. The award will enhance the School of Dentistry’s research, clinical, and entrepreneurial efforts in bone tissue engineering aimed primarily at oral and craniofacial reconstruction.
“This grant bolsters the School of Dentistry’s position as a leader in bone tissue engineering.  It will enable us to recruit and sustain a renowned, biomedical engineer and innovator in clinical and translational regenerative medicine,” said Mark A. Reynolds, DDS, Ph.D., School of Dentistry dean and professor. “The school’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is internationally renowned for clinical excellence and the endowed professorship and grant set the stage for the tissue engineering critical for reconstructive clinical care of patients with cancer, traumatic injury, and developmental disorders.”
The University of Maryland, College Park received $1 million for two Brin Family Endowed Professorships in Theoretical Computer Science. By applying rigorously developed theory and algorithms, computer scientists are solving practical problems arising in networks, computer graphics, image processing, architecture, social networks, and epidemiology. Theoretical computer science also provides the foundation for research priorities such as cryptography, data science and machine learning, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.
“This strong public-private partnership will help generate the knowledge that powers high-tech innovation in the state,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “Together, the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Brin family will enable us to recruit two more world-class scientists to our growing computer science hub. We appreciate this important support.”
Mount St. Mary’s University received $1 million to establish an Endowed Professorship in Computational Science and Mathematics. This professorship will increase integrated faculty and undergraduate research within the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science through an expanded and formalized relationship with Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., the firm that operates the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. The grant will also establish a collaborative technology workspace on the Mount’s Frederick campus to support student and faculty research; fund three undergraduate research fellowships annually; and provide for online laboratory access for student and faculty research.
“Mount St. Mary’s University is tremendously grateful to the Maryland Department of Commerce for matching funds and to Leidos Biomedical Research for its partnership in support of our computational science initiatives,” said Mount St. Mary’s University President Timothy E. Trainor. “We envision this program will grow to become a center of innovation and excellence that connects the university, employers, researchers, and local communities, yielding the sophisticated highly skilled computational scientists Maryland needs for sustained growth and innovation.”
Hood College also received $1 million to support its new Endowed Chair in Project Management, a position that will serve the college’s new, graduate-level certificate program in project management designed to serve industry and government in the Frederick region. The program is one of several initiatives stemming from a recently signed MOU between Hood College and Leidos Biomedical Research. Hood received matching funds from George B. Delaplaine, Jr., and the new endowed chair will support the development of two initiatives within the college’s School of Business: Hood Ventures, a graduate-level business and technology consulting center, and Data-Driven Frederick, a research center that will house empirical work done by Hood faculty, partners, and students.
“We are grateful to the Department of Commerce for its role in funding the Endowed Chair in Project Management,” said Hood College President Andrea E. Chapdelaine. “We strive to meet the needs of the greater Frederick community, and this opportunity creates a pathway to continue that effort. This type of public-private partnership, which brings together the State of Maryland, business and higher education to fuel economic development, is in itself a distinctive innovation, and Hood is fortunate to be part of such a community where all entities work together to strengthen our economy and serve our students’ and employee needs.”
The Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative was created by the General Assembly during the 2014 legislative session and has provided $31.3 million in funding to leverage $37.7 million in private donations. The funding can be used to pay salaries of newly endowed department chairs, staff, and support personnel in designated scientific and technical fields of study; fund related research fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students; and purchase lab equipment and other basic infrastructure and equipment.