Three faculty members named 2015-16 Distinguished USF Health Professors

Three senior faculty members — Paula Bickford, PhD; Jorge Lockhart, MD; and Michael White, PhD — were recently selected as Distinguished USF Health Professors for 2015-16.

The designation recognizes outstanding faculty who have clearly distinguished themselves in their fields and are known nationally and internationally for their research and scholarly activity.

Dr. Paula Bickford is a professor of neurosurgery in the USF Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair and in the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, as well as a senior research career scientist at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.  She has conducted pioneering research in several areas related to aging, including brain catecholamine aging and antioxidants, and is recognized as a leader in the field of nutritional neuroscience.  Her work with rodents demonstrated the role of the cerebellum in age-related memory decline, and was among the first to show that a variety of common fruits and vegetable with high antioxidant activity may reverse and potentially prevent certain aspects of brain aging.

Dr. Bickford has been continuously funded by the Veterans Administration and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) throughout her research career.  She received the Walter Nicolai Prize from the American Aging Association and a Career Development Award from the National Institute on Aging.  A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr. Bickford is a past president of the American Aging Association and the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair.

Dr. Jorge Lockhart is professor and founding chair of the Department of Urology, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. He also serves as a faculty member in the Genitourinary Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. He directs and has developed the USF Urology Residency Program, which under his guidance has achieved accreditation, steadily grown, and gained recognition as a top program.

An international pioneer in the surgical and medical management of bladder cancer, Dr. Lockhart has contributed significantly to the knowledge of bladder function and conditions impacting the bladder. His research interests include reconstruction of the urinary tract following ablative surgery and urinary incontinence following radical surgery.  In 1999, he collaborated on the development of a colonic-based bladder alternative, which he named the “Florida Pouch,” a transformational advance offering patients the possibility of living fully without an ostomy appliance and external urine bag.

Dr. Lockhart is fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a past president of the American Confederation of Urology, representing more than 5,000 urologists from South and Central America, Spain and Portugal.  He is a member of the Society of Urologic Surgeons, an honor bestowed to the top 5 percent of urologists in the United States in recognition of exemplary contributions to education, research and innovation in the field of urology.

Dr. Michael White is professor of global health in the USF College of Public Health and member of the USF Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation. He is internationally recognized in the field of microbial genomics and cell biology with a strong track record of publication and NIH funding. Dr. White’s research focuses on the human pathogen Toxoplasma gondii, which has emerged as the leading genetic model organism for studying the biology of apicomplexan parasites causing malaria, toxoplasmosis and cryptosporidiosis as well as several veterinary diseases. Dr. White and colleagues were the first to uncover part of the mysterious process by which T. gondii spreads at explosive and potentially deadly rates inside humans and other animals.

Since coming to USF in 2009, Dr. White has emerged as a leader in several areas of parasitology research, including development and application of genomic-scale technologies and use of large-scale screening approaches to dissect transcriptional mechanisms, signaling pathways and cell cycle regulation.

Dr. White just concluded serving as chair of the NIH Eukaryotic Pathogens Study Section, which covers research on all parasitic and fungal infections. He is a member of the Genome Consortium for T. gondii.

The Distinguished USF Health Professor award recognizes senior faculty across all USF Health colleges and programs for their substantial achievements in the areas of research, teaching and service. Faculty members are nominated by their deans, recommended by their peers and selected through a rigorous process of internal and external review of each nominee’s credentials.

In addition to receiving a $5,000 base salary adjustment, Drs. Bickford, Lockhart and White are invited to give a USF Health address during the academic year, and are granted the State University System title of Distinguished USF Health Professor.  A commemorative medallion will be awarded to each at the Annual Research Day Lectureship in February.