University of Pittsburgh
June 21, 2009

University of Pittsburgh Faculty Honored as Distinguished Professors

The rank of Distinguished Professor recognizes extraordinary, internationally renowned scholarly attainment in an individual discipline or field.
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The University of Pittsburgh is honoring seven senior faculty members as Distinguished Professors. Charles D. Bluestone has been named Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology; Olivera J. Finn, Distinguished Professor of Immunology; William C. de Groat, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, and Karen A. Matthews, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, all effective July 1. John R. Beverley, has been named Distinguished Professor of Hispanic Languages and Literatures; Harvey S. Borovetz, Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering; and Roger Hendrix, Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, all effective Sept. 1.

Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg made the appointments based on the recommendation of Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher.

The appointment of a faculty member to a Distinguished Professorship constitutes the highest honor that can be accorded a member of the professorate.

Biographical information on the faculty honorees follows.

John R. Beverley

Beverley, a professor of Hispanic languages and literatures and adjunct professor in Pitt's Departments of English and Communication, began his career as a specialist in Spanish Golden Age literature and shifted his focus to Latin American literature and cultural theory. He is a faculty associate in Pitt's Center for Latin American Studies, Graduate Program in Cultural Studies, and Film Studies Program, and a member of the executive committee of the new Pitt Humanities Center. Beverley's association with the University goes back to 1969, when he arrived at Pitt as a lecturer in Hispanic languages and literatures. One of the pioneers of the postcolonial turn in Latin American criticism, Beverley was a founding member of the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group, which had a high-profile impact on Latin American studies during the 1990s. His publications include some 100 articles and 15 authored or edited books. His recent writing concerns the political implications of Latin American cultural theory with a new collection of essays scheduled for release in Latin America this year, and a new book due out from Duke University Press this year. Beverley chaired the Hispanic languages and literatures department from 2002 to 2007 and currently is associate director of the International Institute of Latin American Literature as well as coeditor of the University of Pittsburgh Press series "Illuminations: Cultural Formations of the Americas." Beverley earned his bachelor's degree from the Department of Romance Languages at Princeton University in 1964, followed by a master's degree from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin in 1966. He received his PhD from the Department of Literature at the University of California at San Diego in 1972.

Charles D. Bluestone

Bluestone (A&S '54, MED '58), who was named a Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology, has devoted more than 30 years to treating children with ear, nose, and throat problems. He became the School of Medicine's first Eberly Professor of Pediatric Otolaryngology in 1996 and is the former director of the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology in Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP) of UPMC.

His research interests include otitis media-a middle ear disease that is the most common infection among children in the United States after the common cold-as well as Eustachian tube function and pediatric tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. After serving two years in the U.S. Air Force, Bluestone returned to Pittsburgh in 1964 and entered private practice. At that time, he was a clinical professor of otolaryngology in Pitt's School of Medicine and chief of the otolaryngology service at CHP.

In 1972, he left private practice and became the first full-time director of the Department of Otolaryngology in Boston City Hospital, which in 1996 became part of Boston Medical Center. While in Boston, he was a faculty member at Boston, Harvard, and Tufts universities.

In 1975, Bluestone returned to Pittsburgh to become the first full-time director of the Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology at CHP and a professor of otolaryngology in Pitt's School of Medicine. That year, he and his associate, the late Sylvan E. Stool, initiated a fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at CHP and Pitt. The two-year fellowship was the first subspecialty in pediatric otolaryngology to receive accreditation.

In 1980, he founded the National Institutes of Health-funded Pittsburgh Otitis Media Research Center at CHP and Pitt, where researchers investigate medical and surgical treatments for otitis media and conduct clinical studies related to the disease

In 2004, he stepped down from his position as department director, retaining a clinical schedule and his teaching and research activities.

Bluestone has authored or coauthored more than 500 publications primarily related to pediatric otolaryngology, of which almost half were published in peer-reviewed journals. He is currently on the editorial board of the "International Journal of Pediatric Otolaryngology."

Among his many awards is the 2003 Distinguished Service Award that Bluestone received from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Bluestone received both his Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, and his medical degree from Pitt. He was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, a national honor society for medical students.

Harvey S. Borovetz

Borovetz is chair and a professor in the Department of Bioengineering, the Robert L. Hardesty Professor of Surgery in the Pitt School of Medicine, and a professor in the Swanson School's Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering; he also is deputy director of artificial organs and medical devices in the Pitt-UPMC McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. His research focuses on the design and clinical use of cardiovascular organ replacements-such as a miniature blood pump-based device-for both adults and, particularly, children. He has served as the founding director and now as the bioengineering faculty liaison for the University's clinical bioengineering program in mechanical circulatory support. Founded in 1986, the program supports patients who are implanted with a left ventricular-assist device, or biventricular assist devices, as a bridge to cardiac transplantation or recovery. Borovetz was awarded the William J. von Liebig Foundation's 1990 Award for Vascular Surgery Research for a decade-long project investigating the role of hemodynamics-blood flow-in vascular biology and treatment. He was appointed chair of bioengineering in 2002, and since then the number of full-time faculty members in the department has increased to 20, with more than 100 faculty members having secondary academic appointments. Borovetz is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, a past member of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs Board of Trustees, and a past member of the Biomedical Engineering Society Board of Directors. He has undertaken part-time sabbaticals at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Bioengineering Research Group of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and served on numerous NIH study sections. Borovetz also has served as a panelist for the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding its National Technology Initiative. He received his BA in physics from Brandeis University in 1969 and his MS and PhD in bioengineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1973 and 1976, respectively.

William C. de Groat

De Groat, who was named a Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, is internationally known for his work on urinary dysfunction and pain after spinal cord injury. His main interest is in the neural control of the lower urinary tract and the mechanisms that affect incontinence and painful bladder conditions. De Groat has made a number of influential discoveries that illuminate how the nervous system controls urinary function. He also has fathered the study of bladder dysfunction following spinal injury, shedding light not only on the causes of bladder problems, but also their possible treatment and remedies.

At Pitt, de Groat has been the recipient of both the Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award and the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award. He is known for using a "problem-solving approach" to teaching that incorporates historical context, research, and personal experiences, and allows students to explore the link between basic and clinical science.

In addition, de Groat received the 2007 Reeve-Irvine Research Medal for his lab's studies of the mechanisms underlying recovery of autonomic nervous system function following spinal cord injury. The award, named for the late Christopher Reeve, is given annually by the University of California at Irvine's Reeve-Irvine Research Center and Joan Irvine Smith and the Athalie R. Clark Foundation for highly meritorious scientific contributions in the area of spinal cord injury and repair.

Educated at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, de Groat received postdoctoral training in pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania and in neurophysiology at the John Curtin School for Medical Research in Canberra, Australia. He joined the Pitt faculty in 1968 and has been a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health and the University College London.

Olivera J. Finn

Olivera "Olja" Finn, who was named a Distinguished Professor of Immunology, is chair of the Department of Immunology.

An expert in cancer immunology, Finn has worked to develop vaccines that boost the immune system's ability to recognize and destroy tumor cells, an approach that holds promise for not only treating cancer, but also preventing its inception or its recurrence. Her efforts have focused on pancreatic and colorectal cancer prevention vaccines.

Recently, she and her colleagues began testing a vaccine that, if effective, might prevent patients at high risk for colorectal cancer from developing precancerous polyps and spare them the inconvenience of repeated colonoscopies. The vaccine is directed against an abnormal variant of a self-made cell protein called MUC1, which is produced in excess by adenomas-polyps that could become cancerous. This new vaccine stimulates an immune response against the MUC1 protein, leading the patient's immune system to attack and destroy abnormal cells.

Born and raised in the former Yugoslavia, Finn married an American exchange student shortly after graduating from high school and moved to the U.S. She earned her undergraduate degree in biology at Interamerican University in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and her PhD in medical microbiology and immunology at Stanford University.

Finn made a groundbreaking discovery 20 years ago, when she identified the first cancer antigen-a tumor molecule that prompts a reaction from immune cells. Finn is the most recent past president of the American Association of Immunologists.

Roger Hendrix

In his research, Hendrix, a professor of biological sciences, investigates the mechanisms through which bacteriophages-tiny viruses that infect bacteria-assemble within a bacterium cell prior to traveling to the next cell. After assembly, the viruses are released from the infected cell, acting as little "spaceships" that protect the virus DNA until it can infect another cell. The assembly of the protein structure that transports the DNA is complicated and specific, and to understand it would provide insight into the assembly of biological structures in general. Hendrix also studies the evolution of viruses by looking at the evolution of bacteriophages. Because viruses do not leave behind physical evidence, Hendrix instead tracks the evolutionary histories of phages by comparing their DNA sequences. When applied to evolution in general, the bacteriophages illustrate on a manageable and faster-paced scale how select populations of similar organisms survive while others do not. Hendrix received the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Reviewing in Genetics for his extensive writing for academic journals and books about bacteriophage research-both his own and in the field at large-during the past 10 years. The academy recognized Hendrix's ability to synthesize existing ideas and research in review articles and in journal commentaries. Hendrix cofounded and codirects the Pitt-based Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute, which includes researchers and students from around the world working to better understand bacteriophages and their practical applications. Hendrix joined Pitt's biological sciences department in 1973. He received his BS in 1965 from the California Institute of Technology and his PhD in 1970 from Harvard University, where he studied under James D. Watson, a corecipient of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in uncovering the structure of DNA.

Karen A. Matthews

Matthews, who was named a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, is also a Pitt professor of psychology in Pitt's School of Medicine and a professor of epidemiology in the Graduate School of Public Health. She has been a member of Pitt's faculty since 1979.

Matthews is currently the director of the School of Medicine's Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Program and director of the Pittsburgh Mind-Body Research Center, which is jointly operated by Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University.

Matthews earned her PhD in psychology at the University of Texas in Austin at a time when most psychologists studied determinants and treatment of mental health and illness. Through her research and educational training programs, she participated in developing the psychology of physical illness as a specialty area. Her research has focused on behavioral risk factors for cardiovascular disease and their determinants at key developmental transitions. She is currently conducting research on the influence of menopause on women's health, development of behavioral risk factors in adolescence and young adulthood, the role of stress-induced physiological responses in the etiology of heart disease and hypertension, sleep quality as a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and the pathways connecting sociodemographic factors and poor health.

Matthews is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She previously served as editor-in-chief of the journal "Health Psychology" and as president of both the American Psychosomatic Society and the Health Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association (APA). She has received numerous awards, including the 2005 APA Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology. In addition, her research has been recognized by the American Heart Association, APA Health Psychology and Pediatric Psychology divisions, Society of Behavioral Medicine, North American Menopause Society, and the American Psychosomatic Society. She was awarded the "Philosophiae Doctor Honoris Causa" from the University of Helsinki in 2007.