Jeffrey Cirillo, PhD, professor in the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, and Robert Ohsfeldt, PhD, professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, are the latest recipients of the prestigious Regents Professor Award. The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents granted these designations during its November meeting.

Established in 1996, the Regents Professor Award is bestowed annually in recognition of employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas. The title is added to each faculty member’s current designation or rank.

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said the new Regents Professors have proven their commitment to the System’s success. “The recently recognized professors and professionals represent the best of our great System and higher education in Texas,” Chancellor Sharp said. “Their work consistently elevates Texas A&M System campuses and agencies.”

A tuberculosis researcher for more than 25 years, Cirillo is interested in the pathogenesis of bacterial lung infections including—in addition to tuberculosis—staphylococcus, pseudomonas and Legionnaires’ disease. His team of researchers utilizes both animal and molecular models to understand airborne pathogens and to develop novel prevention, treatment and diagnostic strategies to improve global health.

Cirillo is director of the Center for Airborne Pathogens Research and Tuberculosis Image Resources (CAPRI) formed in 2007 and the Small Animal Model Vaccines and Pathogenesis (SAMVAP) group. He has published more than 100 manuscripts and obtained funding from the National Institutes of Health, American Lung Association and U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was recently awarded a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, which supports his work on real-time optical imaging and detection of tuberculosis, and is currently involved in numerous collaborative projects and is co-founder of a spin-off startup company from The Texas A&M University System that is developing products based on technologies developed in his research. He has extensive experience reviewing research in respiratory infectious diseases for journals and granting agencies and is on the editorial boards for several infectious disease journals.

Cirillo received his undergraduate degree from Pitzer College in Claremont, California and master’s and doctoral degrees from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He did his postdoctoral research at Stanford University School of Medicine and has been on the faculty at Texas A&M since 2005.

Also receiving the Regents Professor Award is Ohsfeldt, a professor of health management and policy at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, a position he has held since 2005.

Ohsfeldt’s research examines the effects of alternative treatment strategies on costs, clinical or quality-of-life outcomes (effectiveness), and cost effectiveness in usual clinical practice. Much of his research in this area has focused on treatments for chronic diseases or conditions, although he recently has ventured into work related to oncology treatments and more acute conditions. Ohsfeldt has made important contributions to the general area of health information technology, focused on health information exchange networks and computer-assisted physician order entry systems. Currently, he serves as principal investigator for the evaluation of Texas’ Medicaid 1115 Waiver contract with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. He is an author of 138 published or accepted manuscripts in a variety of peer-reviewed journals and has served on several editorial boards—including the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy—and on round-table panels on health care reform during and after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

A native Texan, Ohsfeldt completed his undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Houston and completed post-doctoral training as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow in Healthcare Finance at Johns Hopkins University and the Texas Medical Center.

The selection process for the awards begins with a call for nominations from the chancellor, after which an internal selection committee is formed within each institution or agency. Final nominations are put forth to the chief executive officer of each respective entity. They are then subject to a system-level review consisting of academic vice chancellors and past recipients of the awards. Finally, nominations are forwarded to the chancellor and the board for final approval.

— Holly Shive

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