Endowed Chairs Given to Two Faculty Members in School of Medicine

Greer Sullivan is the William R. Johnson, Jr., and S. Sue Johnson Endowed Chair; Maurizio Pellecchia is the Daniel Hays Endowed Chair in Cancer Research

Greer Sullivan (left) and Maurizio Pellecchia are faculty members in the School of Medicine at UC Riverside.Photo credit: Ross French, UC Riverside.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Greer Sullivan, MD, MSPH, and Maurizio Pellecchia, Ph.D., both faculty members in the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, have been appointed endowed chairs. The endowed chair title is a distinction of high honor within the UC system and affords mutual benefits to the university and the chair holder

Sullivan, a professor of psychiatry, occupies the William R. Johnson, Jr., and S. Sue Johnson Endowed Chair. The appointment, which went into effect July 1, 2015, for a five-year period, was made possible by a gift to the UC Riverside Foundation from the Johnsons.

Pellecchia, a professor of biomedical sciences, occupies the Daniel Hays Endowed Chair in Cancer Research. His appointment went into effect Sept. 1, 2015, for a period of five years.  It was made possible through a pledge from Daniel M. Hays, MD, a surgeon known for having advanced the field of pediatric surgery.

A health services researcher, Sullivan is the associate dean for population health in the School of Medicine and chair of the new department of social medicine and population health. As the founding director of the Center for Healthy Communities she is developing the medical school’s community-oriented health services research program. Prior to joining UCR in 2014, she was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science, head of the Arkansas Translational Research Institute, and director of the VA-based Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center. She received her research training in Southern California – at UCLA and the Rand Corporation.

She has conducted research on vulnerable populations with serious mental illness, such as those who are homeless or incarcerated, and has been involved in a series of studies examining innovative approaches to deliver treatment for mental disorders in primary care settings.  She has also been involved in building community-based participatory research projects that engage both academics and community leaders.

Internationally known for his research in structure-based drug design, Pellecchia came to UCR in 2015 from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego, Calif. His lab develops novel drug discovery technologies that combine modern biophysical approaches to characterize drug-protein interactions, with synthetic chemistry, cell biology and in vivo pharmacology. The lab’s ultimate goal is to develop novel agents that form the basis for innovative therapeutics particularly in oncology, but also to treat neurodegeneration and other diseases. Last year, he brought to UCR a 700-MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer.

He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the European Molecular Biology Organization Fellowship, the William R. Hearst Foundation Award, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) high-end instrument grant award. He serves on the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Drug Discovery and Molecule Pharmacology review panel and several other NIH review panels. He is the founder of AnCoreX Therapeutics, LLC, a drug discovery services company, and the scientific founder of Iron Horse Therapeutics, Inc., a company based on his inventions to develop novel therapeutics against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. At UCR he plans to advance several agents being developed by his new laboratory into innovative treatments for leukemia and several solid tumors.

William R. Johnson, Jr., and S. Sue Johnson have created several endowments at UCR in ardent support of education, a top priority for them. William Johnson, Jr., is president and chief executive officer of Johnson Machinery Co., Riverside, Calif. He is a US Marine Corp veteran and a graduate of the University of Hawaii.  In 2013 he was named a fellow of UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering.  He has served on the board of the Riverside Community Hospital Foundation, and as director of the Lincoln Club of Riverside County, the Bank of America Advisory Board, and the City National Bank Advisory Board.  He is a former University of Redlands trustee.

A UCR alumna, S. Sue Johnson is vice president of Johnson Machinery Co. and a member of the State of California Chamber of Commerce. She is a founding member and past chair of the UC Riverside Foundation Board of Trustees and a former chair of the Board of Regents of the University of California. She is a recipient of the UCR Alumni Association’s Alumni Service Award and the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest honor the university can bestow upon an individual.

Hays completed his surgical training at Cornell University and Boston Children’s Hospital. He has served extensively on NCI committees and was awarded NIH research grants throughout his career, investigating subjects such as hepatic regeneration and the economic problems of cancer survivors. He has played leadership roles in cancer study groups and national and international organizations. The new endowed chair that bears his name recognizes and honors his longtime service to society through his career in the medical profession.

With the appointments of Sullivan and Pellecchia, the School of Medicine is home now to three endowed chairs, the third one being the Salma Haider Endowed Chair in Biomedical Sciences, held by interim dean Neal L. Schiller.

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