Endowed Professorship to Support Pathogen-Defense Research

Dentistry Today


The Maryland Department of Commerce E-Nnovation Initiative Fund (MEIF), in combination with matching funds from private philanthropy, has awarded the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) $750,000 to establish the Dr. Paul & Mrs. Jean Corcoran Endowed Professorship.

The professorship will support the work of Robert K. Ernst, PhD, professor and vice chair of UMSOD’s Department of Microbial Pathogenesis. His work focuses on the interplay between a bacterial pathogen and the host defense mechanism, and it has led to the development of a diagnostic test to more rapidly identify infections caused by bacteria and fungi.

Also, Ernst is the cofounder of a company, Pataigin, aimed at developing a method to quickly identify disease-producing agents.

“Endowed professorships empower universities to recruit, retain, and recognize outstanding faculty members, helping support and foster enduring academic excellence,” said Mark A. Reynolds, DDS, PhD, dan and professor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

“Such professorships provide distinguished faculty with resources vital to building upon their successes, expanding their impact, and enabling them to pursue innovative solutions for healthcare problems,” said Reynolds.

“I am deeply appreciative of the role that the MEIF and the Maryland Department of Commerce has played in helping to create the Dr. Paul & Mrs. Jean Corcoran Endowed Professorship, which will support one of our outstanding faculty members whose pioneering research with novel diagnostics and therapies is translating into significant federal grant support, unique educational opportunities, and new startup business within Maryland,” said Ernst.

The Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative was created by the state’s General Assembly during the 2014 legislative session and has provided more than $49.3 million in funding to leverage more than $59.6 million in private donations.

The funding can be used to pay salaries of newly endowed department chairs, staff, and support personnel in designated scientific and technical fields of study; fund-related research fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students; and purchase lab equipment and other basic infrastructure and materials.

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