Texas A&M Health Science Center welcomes COM Dr. Johnson, SRPH Dr. Phillips as newest Regents Professors

December 4, 2008

(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — Dr. Arthur Johnson of the College of Medicine and Dr. Charles Phillips of the School of Rural Public Health are the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s latest recipients of the prestigious Regents Professor Award.

Johnson, Ph.D., and Phillips, Ph.D., M.P.H., received the award at the Dec. 4 meeting of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. In all, 13 A&M System faculty members were designated Regents Professors for 2007-08.

“I very much thank the regents for this honor,” Dr. Johnson said. “I am very fortunate to have had a number of outstanding students, postdoctoral trainees and technicians work with me at A&M, and it is essentially their talents, accomplishments and research successes that are being recognized by this award.”

Dr. Phillips said, “It is very heartening to be recognized by your colleagues and nominated by them for such a prestigious award. The Regents Professor Award recognizes exceptional contributions in teaching, research and public service. It is truly an honor to receive an award that emphasizes one’s commitment to all elements of our responsibility as members of an academic community.”

Established in 1996, 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. Since its adoption, 105 faculty members from universities, agencies and the health science center across the A&M System have been recognized with the award.

Dr. Johnson is Wehner-Welch Foundation Chair and distinguished professor of molecular and cellular medicine in the HSC-College of Medicine. He also is a distinguished professor of chemistry and professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A&M University.

His laboratory is investigating several biochemical processes, including the movement of proteins through or into a membrane (protein trafficking), nascent protein folding, endoplasmic reticulum associated protein degradation of misfolded proteins and the creation of holes in mammalian cell membranes by bacterial toxins. Two other processes extensively examined are blood coagulation and protein biosynthesis.

Dr. Johnson received a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1964. After teaching and coaching football at Milton Academy near Boston for five years, he earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Oregon in 1973. Following postdoctoral research at Columbia University on a Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship, he joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma in 1977, where he was named the Grayce B. Kerr Centennial Chair in 1992 before moving to Texas A&M in 1994.

“The College of Medicine is extremely fortunate to have Dr. Art Johnson on its faculty,” said Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., Jean and Thomas McMullin Dean of Medicine. “He has made significant and transforming contributions to the field of cellular biology. He is well deserving of this honor and more.”

Dr. Phillips is married to Catherine Hawes, Ph.D., the HSC-School of Rural Public Health’s first Regents Professor. He is a gerontologist and public health professional specializing in long-term care policy and health services research. His particular interests are in measuring and evaluating quality of care and quality of life in care settings providing long-term care to the frail elderly and disabled.

Dr. Phillips was one of the principal investigators who developed the minimum data set for the Nursing Home Resident Assessment and Care Screening system, parts of which are used more than 10 million times each year to assess U.S. nursing home residents. He is currently involved with a group of international collaborators in the creation of modular development system-compatible assessment instruments for other health care settings providing care to the elderly. Familiar with techniques used in the development of resident classification systems for acuity-based reimbursement in long-term care, he also has been in studies of best clinical practices in nursing homes, nursing home culture change, nursing home performance measurement, elder abuse and service provision to disabled youth.

Prior to joining the health science center, Dr. Phillips was director and senior research scientist at the Myers Research Institute at Menorah Park Center for Senior Living in Beachwood, Ohio. This was preceded by a position as co-director of the RTI International’s nationally recognized Program on Aging and Long-Term Care. He received a B.S. in Government and History in 1971 from Tarleton State University. In 1973, he was awarded a master’s and in 1979 a Ph.D. from the University of Texas before earning a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) from the University of North Carolina in 1987.

“We are pleased with the selection of Dr. Phillips as a Regents Professor,” said Roderick E. McCallum, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and interim dean of the HSC-School of Rural Public Health. “His scholarship and education in measuring and evaluating quality of care and quality of life in care settings providing long-term care to the frail elderly and disabled bring substantial credit to the School of Rural Public Health.”

Award recipients are designated as Regents Professors for the duration of their service or employment within the A&M System, provided 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.

The designation as Regents Professor places Dr. Johnson and Dr. Phillips on a growing list of HSC faculty members to receive this distinction. Second only to Texas A&M University in total recipients, the HSC is now home to 21 Regents Professor Award holders, whose excellence in a variety of fields of expertise has earned them this recognition.

Marcia G. Ory, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor of social and behavioral health in the HSC-School of Rural Public Health, was named Regents Professor last year from the health science center.

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