February 17, 2017

Congratulations to Mary X.D. O’Riordan, PhD on Frederick C. Neidhardt Professorship

We are delighted to announce that Mary O’Riordan, Ph.D., has recently been approved by the Regents as the first Frederick C. Neidhardt Collegiate Professor. The establishment of the Professorship itself was approved at the December, 2016 Regent’s meeting. 

The installation will take place at a ceremony on a date to be named shortly. (Please check back here for updates.) The Professorship, established by the department, was provided by Provost Martha Pollack and supported by Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean Marschall Runge in honor of Mary’s scholarship, mentoring, teaching, and service to the department and medical school, with special emphasis on her role as Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Dr. O’Riordan has developed and maintained an NIH-funded and internationally respected research program. Since her arrival at the University of Michigan in 2003, Dr. O’Riordan has established herself as a leading investigator in the field of innate immune recognition of microbial pathogens and in defining how host cell physiology influences intracellular parasitism. Her studies have progressed to a level where she is internationally recognized as a leader in the field as evidenced by invitations to present her work at various national meetings and universities and colleges all over the country and overseas. She also serves as editor for 5 different journals and regularly participates as reviewer of grant applications for the NIH, DOD, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and private foundations. She has recently accepted an invitation to serve as a permanent member of the NIH study section on bacterial pathogenesis. She has published in high impact journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA and Immunity.    

Since joining the university, Dr. O’Riordan has been a strong supporter of graduate education, serving on the departmental graduate studies committee, the Task Force on Institutional Climate for Diversity, and advisor to the Graduate Employee's Organization. She received the University of Michigan Endowment for the Basic Sciences Teaching Award in 2013 and was later inducted into the UMMS League of Educational Excellence. She served as Director of the Program for Biomedical Sciences, and in 2015, she was appointed Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in the Medical School. Dr. O'Riordan performs a remarkable amount of service at the university and school, including serving on the Biological Scholars Search Committee, the UMMS Host-Microbiome Initiative Local Executive Board and the M-Cubed Executive Board.

Congratulations Mary!  We are very proud of your accomplishments!

Background on Dr. Frederick C. Neidhardt (1931 – 2016)

Dr. Neidhardt was a towering figure in microbiology who dedicated his career to both excellence in science and excellence in leadership and service. He served as Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology from 1970 – 1982 and then served as Associate Dean for Faculty of the Medical School and later as UM’s Vice President of Research. In these roles, he fostered the recruitment of women and minorities to the faculty and facilitated the development of a mentorship system for junior faculty.

Dr. Neidhardt’s research focused on gene regulation and the molecular physiology of bacterial growth. He was the first scientist to employ temperature-sensitive mutants in essential functions to analyze gene regulation in studies of bacterial physiology, and he is credited with establishing the field of microbial proteomics. Until recently, he served as Editor-in-Chief of a treatise on the cellular and molecular biology of Escherichia coli, the most studied cell in biology. This book, EcoSal, was considered the most valuable reference ever published on E. coli and Salmonella bacteria. He published 116 peer-reviewed papers that were very widely cited in the literature (over 12,600 times as of June, 2016).

Dr. Neidhardt’s leadership in microbiology has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the Eli Lily & Co. Award in Bacteriology and Immunology and the Alexander von Humboldt Senior U.S. Scientist Award from Germany, and election to the presidency of the American Society for Microbiology.

The Department is very proud of Dr. Neidhardt’s accomplishments and very happy that his legacy will live on in the Department.