The Board of Regents established these professorships to recognize senior faculty who have exceptional scholarly or creative achievements, national and international reputations for academic excellence and superior records of teaching, mentoring and service
From The University Record:
Three faculty members who have been recognized with one of the University of Michigan’s highest honors — including two from the Medical School — will discuss their professional and scholarly experiences during an upcoming event that will be livestreamed.
Distinguished University Professors John Z. Ayanian, M.D., MPP, left; Earl Lewis, Ph.D., professor of history and of Afroamerican and African studies, LSA, and professor of public policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; and Janet L. Smith, Ph.D., right, will speak from 4-5:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in the Michigan League Ballroom. Their presentations will be livestreamed on YouTube.
Each lecture will be followed by a brief question-and-answer session. The event is open to the public, and attendees should register in advance at umich.formstack.com/forms/2021dup.
The Board of Regents established the Distinguished University Professorships in 1947 to recognize senior faculty who have exceptional scholarly or creative achievements, national and international reputations for academic excellence and superior records of teaching, mentoring and service.
Here’s a look at the Medical School honorees and their presentations:
John Z. Ayanian, M.D., MPP — “The Quest for Health Equity”
Ayanian is the Alice Hamilton Distinguished University Professor of Medicine and Healthcare Policy and professor of internal medicine, Medical School; professor of health management and policy, School of Public Health; and professor of public policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
He has served since 2012 as the inaugural director of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, which includes 675 faculty members from 15 schools and colleges at U-M.
Ayanian’s research focuses on access to care, quality of care and health equity. Since 2014, he has led a multidisciplinary team conducting the federally authorized evaluation of the Healthy Michigan Plan, which expanded Medicaid to 1 million adults in Michigan.
Ayanian is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, American Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of American Physicians and Alpha Omega Alpha, as well as a master of the American College of Physicians. He received the John Eisenberg National Award for Career Achievement in Research from the Society of General Internal Medicine and the Distinguished Investigator Award from AcademyHealth.
The United States faces a crisis of health disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has unmasked deep racial, ethnic and socioeconomic inequities. During his lecture, Ayanian will discuss how the field of health equity has developed over the course of his academic career, including his research and policy work focused on improving access to care, quality of care and health outcomes by race, ethnicity and insurance coverage.
He will also discuss the impact of the Affordable Care Act and continuing challenges to achieving health equity and racial justice.
Janet Smith, Ph.D. — “A Path to Discovering Biology in Protein Structure”
Smith uses X-ray crystallography to study physiologically important proteins and how they function. She has helped determine the structure of many biosynthetic enzymes and several viral proteins, including those associated with the dengue, Zika and West Nile viruses.
First at Purdue University and since 2005 as director of the U-M Center for Structural Biology in the Life Sciences Institute, Smith has coupled a passion for developing new methodologies in structural biology with discovering insights into the biology of macromolecules.
She played an important role in U-M’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by advancing development of a test to detect anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.
She has been the associate director of the LSI since 2017 and lectures internationally on structural biology and synchrotron radiation. In addition, Smith is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She received The Protein Society Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award in 2021.
Smith’s path through research has taken many unpredictable turns. In her lecture, she will discuss how it has unfolded not only in her research journey, but in her personal and career journey, as well, from a bookish childhood to a field of high-tech scientific research.
Her love of reading pulled her toward scholarship, the logic of molecules drew her to chemistry, the creativity of nature inspired her focus on biochemistry, the beauty of proteins lured her into protein crystallography, and the need for new technology in crystallography drove her to service for the scientific community.
By exploring the twists and turns that opened with each new discovery, she’s had the opportunity to witness how new technologies in her field helped scientists “see” protein structures quickly, and she has experienced the joy of connecting protein structures to biological functions.