Two faculty members at The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center were named today as recipients of the prestigious Regents Professor Award. Richard H. Finnell, Ph.D., professor of environmental and genetic medicine and director at the A&M System Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology, and Allison C. Rice-Ficht, Ph.D., professor of medical biochemistry and genetics in the A&M System Health Science Center College of Medicine and director of the college’s Center for Microencapsulation and Drug Delivery, received the award at a meeting of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in College Station.
The Regents Professor Award is bestowed annually by the Board of Regents in recognition of awardees’ exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas. Award recipients are designated as Regents Professors for the duration of their service or employment within the A&M System, receive a $9,000 stipend payable in $3,000 increments over three consecutive years, and receive a special medallion bearing the seal of the A&M System and a framed certificate signed by the chancellor and the chairman of the Board of Regents.
Dr. Finnell has had a distinguished career researching environmentally induced birth defects. A graduate of the University of Oregon, the University of British Columbia and the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center, Dr. Finnell became a faculty member at Texas A&M University in the early 1990s before becoming director of the Center for Human Molecular Genetics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In 2001, he was named to his current position as director of the A&M System Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology, which provides a critical link between A&M System scientists and cutting-edge technologies being developed in Houston.
Dr. Finnell was instrumental in developing the Center for Environmental and Genetic Medicine. In addition, he is involved in the development of research collaborations, including a relationship with the Texas Institute for Research and Rehabilitation that resulted in an $850,000 grant and numerous scientific collaborations. Dr. Finnell holds several National Institutes of Health grants. He received the Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence in 1995 and the Texas A&M University Distinguished Achievement Award in Research in 1997.
Dr. Ficht has gained a strong international reputation in the areas of biochemistry, molecular biology and infectious diseases since joining the A&M System in 1984. As a faculty member and assistant dean at the A&M System Health Science Center College of Medicine, she developed the research enterprise in Temple, created the radiological safety office for the A&M System Health Science Center College of Medicine in Temple and developed numerous interdisciplinary programs with Texas A&M University. In 2000, she was named to her current position as director of the new Center for Microencapsulation and Drug Delivery, for which she recruited 46 faculty members and oversees nearly $1.5 million in funding.
As a teacher, Dr. Ficht developed innovative electronic resources for teaching and was the course coordinator for genetics for eight years. Her one-on-one teaching has included numerous research projects conducted with students, as well as many science fairs at the elementary school level. Dr. Ficht has engaged in a number of research initiatives focused on the molecular biology of human and animal disease, including 34 national and state-level grants totaling about $21.5 million.

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