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Internationally-Recognized Scientist Richard I. Eckert, PhD, Named Deputy Director of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

November 18, 2019

Richard L. Eckert, PhD

Dr. Eckert will Lead Scientific and Research Programs and Guide Strategic Planning for the Cancer Center

Kevin Cullen, MD, the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Distinguished Professor in Oncology, and Director of the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), along with UMSOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced today that Richard L. Eckert, PhD, the John F.B. Weaver Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has been named the Deputy Director of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC).

Dr. Eckert, a preeminent scientist and investigator with continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has served as the UMGCCC Associate Director for Basic Sciences, since 2013. In his new role as Deputy Director, Dr. Eckert has principal responsibility for scientific and research leadership, as well as recruitment and strategic planning, working with the leaders of the UMGCCC to set priorities and future direction. He also works with Dr. Cullen and the administrative staff to develop and review laboratory budget, and to evaluate and mentor scientific faculty. Dr. Eckert replaces Edward Sausville, MD, PhD, formerly a Professor in the Department of Medicine, who retired earlier this year.

"We are pleased that Dr. Eckert will now serve in this senior position in the Greenebaum Center,” said Dr. Cullen. “With our mission of providing high caliber scientific leadership and robust programs in basic, clinical and population science research, Dr. Eckert will play an invaluable role in guiding our strategy moving forward.”

Dr. Eckert is internationally-renowned for his pioneering discoveries in the area of surface epithelial biology – specifically focusing on the human epidermis.  His studies have led to enhanced understanding of normal skin biology and to insights regarding the mechanisms that drive skin diseases including cancer.  He also has a long-term interest in the prevention of skin cancer by natural biological agents.  Dr. Eckert has published more than 200 journal articles and reviews, and his trainees have presented over 200 meeting abstracts.  He serves as an editorial board member and reviewer for numerous scientific journals.

He is a recipient of the University of Wisconsin Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, an elected member of the Board of the Society for Investigative Dermatology, a standing member of the review panel of the American Institute for Cancer Research, and has served on the Board of Scientific Counselors of the NIAMS and on numerous NIH study sections. Dr. Eckert holds patents from the United States Patent Office, and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health as a principal investigator since 1989. He is currently principal investigator on multiple RO1 grants from the National Institutes of Health and grants from private foundations.  He has also been supported by the Department of the Navy, the American Cancer Society, the Dermatology Foundation, and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program Breast Cancer Research Program and the Maryland Stem Cell Fund.

“Dr. Eckert is an outstanding scientist who will be a highly-effective leader in helping to advance the national leadership position of the Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center,” said Dean Reece, who is also Executive Vice President, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “His background and expertise are perfectly aligned with the Center’s critical focus on making new discoveries in basic cancer biology and in specialty research programs, in order to develop and apply innovative cancer treatment and prevention strategies.”

Dr. Eckert received his BA Degree in Life Sciences from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. He then went on to the University of Illinois-Urbana, where he received both his MS Degree and PhD Degree in Physiology and Biophysics. He was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Cell Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Harvard Medical School.

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center is ranked among the top 20 cancer centers in the U.S., and is ranked #2 in the State of Maryland, according to U.S. News & World Report. With the prestigious “comprehensive” title, the UMGCCC is one of only 46 programs in the United States so designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The new designation means that the UMGCCC has met NCI’s maximum standards for ranking among the most exceptional cancer programs in the country.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research.  With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and more than $540 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit

About the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC) is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore. The center is a joint entity of the University of Maryland Medical Center and University of Maryland School of Medicine. It offers a multidisciplinary approach to treating all types of cancer and has an active cancer research program. It is ranked among the top cancer programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.


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