Dr. Liggett chosen as Biomedical Research Exemplar for research leadership, integrity

USF Health’s Stephen B. Liggett, MD, was one of 30 scientists nationwide recently selected to join The Research Exemplar Project as a Biomedical Research Exemplar – recognition of his outstanding reputation as a leader whose high-impact, federally-funded research yields novel and reproducible results.

The Research Exemplar Project, based at Washington University School of Medicine, helps identify and share best practices that exemplars use to lead and manage their research laboratories with professionalism and integrity.  Exemplars, chosen through a competitive nomination process, receive an engraved award and will be featured on the program’s website later this summer.

Dr. Liggett is vice dean for research at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, associate vice president for research at USF Health, and a professor of internal medicine and of molecular pharmacology and physiology.  He and his team study the genetic, molecular biology, structure and function of G-protein coupled receptors, or GPCRs.  Malfunctions of GPCR signaling pathways are involved in many chronic diseases including asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, making this family of cell surface receptors (the largest in the human genome) an important drug target.  A better understanding of how the receptors work could enable the design of drugs that more precisely target the receptors with fewer side effects.

Stephen B. Liggett, MD, associate vice president of research at USF Health

Continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for 27 years, Dr. Liggett has published 250 peer-reviewed papers, many highly cited and appearing in top journals such as Nature Medicine, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

After observing dysfunctional GPCRs in rhinovirus-induced asthma, Dr. Liggett sequenced all known human rhinoviruses, a common cause of respiratory infections, to define the structure and evolution of human rhinovirus genomes. This groundbreaking published work, featured on the cover of Science, provided a framework for large-scale, genome-based epidemiological studies and the design of antiviral agents or vaccine development.

“Dr. Liggett’s published papers are typically ‘data-rich’ and approach a given hypothesis using multiple techniques, thereby providing a confluence of evidence for his conclusions.  His work has been replicated many times by others,” wrote Charles J. Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, in his nomination of Dr. Liggett for Biomedical Research Exemplar.

“He is known to maintain strong leadership of his laboratory with intense scrutiny of data… Dr. Liggett exemplifies professionalism and integrity in his research activities.”

Dr. Liggett has formally mentored more than 35 PhD graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have attained research positions in academic medicine or industry. He develops career paths for all members of his laboratory group and provides quarterly reviews for all personnel from technicians to junior faculty.

Dr. Liggett’s groundbreaking research sequencing all known human rhinoviruses, a common cause of respiratory infections, was featured on the April 3, 2009 cover of the journal Science.