The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has nominated associate professor of pharmacology Andrea Giuffrida, PhD, as the new vice president for research. The researcher, who was appointed by the president of UTHSCSA, William L. Henrich, MD, MACP, had already served in the same position ad interim for a year.
Giuffrida is an experienced researcher and professor that has worked at the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences since 2003, where he previously served as director of biomedical research development in the Office of the Vice President for Research. During this year in the interim position, he was able to renew the funding for the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy, acquire new instruments for an Electron Microscopy Facility and Optical Imaging Core, as well as chair the Research Strategic Advisory Council.
“Of particular interest, he took a leave of absence from the Health Science Center for a year to grow his understanding of the NIH and Washington, D.C.,” stated Henrich in a press release. “Dr. Giuffrida served as a science and technology policy fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the Office of Science Policy at the NIH and in the Office of the Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This is valuable experience for our Health Science Center.”
As an investigator, Giuffrida is particularly focused on studying endocannabinoids, which is a group of naturally developed lipids able to imitate the effects of marijuana. He has made important discoveries regarding the neurobiology of the endocannabinoids, as well as its possible influence in neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia.
“I am fully committed to developing a strong research ecosystem and increase the Health Science Center’s stature and recognition nationwide,” said Giuffrida. “To achieve this goal, I am working closely with the institutional leadership to identify new revenue streams, grow research funding, and foster team science to accelerate the translation and commercialization of novel ideas.”
Giuffrida and his office are working to establish new collaborative programs and improve integration of the Health Science Center schools with other organizations and institutions focused on research and with emerging trends in the field of biomedical science. Along these lines, UTHSCSA is collaborating with other schools, the Clinical and Translational Science Award and the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute Academy in order to find funding for pilot and promising research.
In addition, the vice president for research is also looking to improve the facility’s productivity and competitiveness, with cutting-edge instruments from its Library, Equipment, Repair and Rehabilitation (LERR) funds. The development of new information technology platforms in collaboration with the UT System is also a priority, as well as explore further applications of the UTSA cloud computing infrastructure.
“This year, for example, we developed a pilot course on biomedical product development to introduce students and faculty to the complex environment of U.S. Food and Drug Administration-regulated pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and invited several business leaders from our community to teach most of the modules,” he added.