University of Vermont

University Communications

Sobel and Nelson Named Distinguished Professors

Release Date: 05-26-2009

Author: Jennifer Nachbur
Phone: 802-656-7875 Fax: 802-656-3961

Two University of Vermont College of Medicine professors received a new title at Commencement on May 17. Burton Sobel, M.D., professor of medicine and Mark Nelson, Ph.D., professor and chair of pharmacology, were two of the first four faculty members to be named University Distinguished Professors, a new honorific title conferred upon a select number of professors who have attained an international reputation in the areas of teaching, research, scholarship, and service.

The program honors faculty who have brought distinction to the university over an extended period of service; only those with the rank of professor are considered for the award. Nominations, submitted by deans, chairs and full-time faculty, supplemented by curriculum vitae and supporting letters from distinguished scholars around the world, are reviewed by the Faculty Senate. The final selection is made by the university provost.

Going forward, a maximum of two Distinguished Professors will be selected in a year, with up to ten professors holding the title at any time. Those ten will form the Council of University Distinguished Professors, who will serve in an advisory role to the president and provost. New University Distinguished Professors will only be named when existing members of the council leave full-time appointment at UVM. The honor also comes with a $5,000 annual professional expense award.

As recipients of this elite award, Nelson and Sobel were noted for their remarkable success at UVM and within the academy.

A member of the UVM faculty since 1986, Nelson was awarded a prestigious MERIT award in 2008 from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The ten-year, $3.39 million grant provides continued funding for Nelson's research on smooth muscle cells. This year, Nelson was named a Fellow in the Biophysical Society. This award is designed to honor the society's distinguished members who have demonstrated excellence in science and to the expansion of the field of biophysics. Nelson has published extensively in such prestigious journals as Nature, Science, and Nature Neuroscience.

Sobel is director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Fletcher Allen Health Care and the University of Vermont and a consulting cardiologist at Fletcher Allen. He has pioneered and contributed to ground-breaking research in cardiology that has had a major impact on how heart-attack patients are treated, including extensive research on the dissolution of blood clots and heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes. Sobel, whose research is extensively published, is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health and a Distinguished Scientist Award from the American College of Cardiology, among many others. Sobel has been at UVM since 1994.