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Lishan Su, PhD, Invested as the UMSOM Charles Gordon Smith Endowed Professor for HIV Research

November 09, 2022 | Lauren Robinson


Lishan Su, PhDInvestiture Ceremony Celebrates Donor’s Generosity and Recognizes Groundbreaking Research in Human Virology at UM School of Medicine

With his 92-year-old mother watching via live stream from the city of Qingdao, China, and an in-person audience of friends and colleagues gathered in Westminster Hall, Lishan Su, PhD, an internationally prominent virologist and immunologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s (UMSOM) Institute of Human Virology (IHV), was invested as the Charles Gordon Smith Endowed Professor for HIV Research. Dr. Su is a Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology & Immunology at UMSOM’s IHV, who also serves as the Director of the Division of Virology, Pathogenesis, and Cancer at the Institute.

Margaret McCarthy, PhDMargaret McCarthy, PhD, The James & Carolyn Frenkil Endowed Dean’s Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at UMSOM, served as the host of the event, along with UMSOM Dean Mark T. Gladwin, MD, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, who presided over his first investiture ceremony as Dean.

Robert C. Gallo, MDAmong the speakers at the ceremony were Robert C. Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director of IHV at the UMSOM and Co-founder & Chair of the Scientific Leadership Board of the Global Virus Network, along with Mike McCune, MD, PhD, head of HIV Frontiers Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Yang Liu, PhD, CEO and CSO, OncoC4 Incorporated; and Mark Bonyhadi, PhD, Senior Advisor, Qiming Venture Partners USA.

For over two decades, Dr. Su has focused on studying several critical areas of immune system responses in human chronic virus infections, particularly in explaining how HIV causes AIDS-related diseases. After joining the IHV at UMSOM, Dr. Su continued his research program to use HIV and hepatitis B viruses to dissect human immunity and inflammatory diseases, and to develop antibody and cell-based drugs that target newly identified immune cells and signaling pathways to treat human inflammatory diseases, including virus infection and cancer. For the past 20 years, Dr. Su also has interacted with U.S. and international biomedical research institutions and centers by providing advice and evaluating progress. He also has trained over 40 postdoc/visiting scholars and 20 graduate students from eight different countries.

Charles Gordon Smith of Fort Lauderdale, FL, cemented his own legacy in the advancement of virological research for years to come, by establishing an endowed professorship at the UMSOM’s IHV that now bears his name. Mr. Smith was a staff accountant at Price Waterhouse and was described by friends as very scholarly with multiple degrees, an avid reader, researcher, and book collector with multiple interests.

In 2001, Mr. Smith had read an article about Dr. Gallo. This article sparked Mr. Smith’s growing interest in Gallo’s work and eventually, his desire to fund HIV research at the IHV through his bequest. 

“Charlie was a philanthropist and wanted to help so many,” noted a close friend of Mr. Smith, who requested anonymity. “Dr. Gallo had made an impact for Charlie, as much as Charlie is now making an impact for Dr. Gallo.”

Mr. Smith's bequest, partially matched by Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund (MEIF), created the Charles Gordon Smith Endowed Professorship for HIV Research.

Mark T. Gladwin, MDDean Gladwin underscored Dr. Su’s amazing discovery of an inflammation pathway that damaged organs in patients living with HIV. “Using a new tool for research, a mouse that has been “humanized” by replacing mouse blood with human blood stem cells that develop into an entire human immune system with all the blood cell types, he [Dr. Su] found a role for a unique type of white blood cell called plasmacytoid dendritic cells or pDCs, which are our body’s first line of defense against viruses,” he said. “Dr. Su showed that removing these immune cells during chronic HIV infection reversed many of the consequences of HIV infection that occur despite treatment with antivirals.”

Dr. Gallo thanked Dr. McCarthy and the Department of Pharmacology for their role in the recruitment of Dr. Su, a scholar in “virology pathogenesis and cancer” at IHV.

Dr. Liu praised Dr. Su as a “rare individual” who has had significant accomplishments in basic science, virology, and stem cells. He said that he has known Dr. Su for more than 30 years, and that among his tremendous abilities is that he “makes people proud of science.” He noted that Dr. Su was also well-versed in the humanities.

Dr. Bonyhadi remembered his time with Dr. Su when they were office mates, and how Dr. Su was an amazing mentor and team player.

“I am very humbled by this tremendous honor,” Dr. Su said to a rousing applause from the audience (and from his mother in China!).

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 46 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 two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.3 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 nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has nearly $600 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 population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 students, trainees, residents, and fellows. The combined School of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of over $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges profile) is an innovator in translational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-up companies.  In the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of the Best Medical Schools, published in 2021, the UM School of Medicine is ranked #9 among the 92 public medical schools in the U.S., and in the top 15 percent (#27) of all 192 public and private U.S. medical schools. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu

About the Institute of Human Virology

Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland, and the University of Maryland Medical System, the IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV combines the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology, and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders, most notably HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, visit ihv.org and follow us on Twitter @IHVmaryland.

Contact

Lauren Robinson
Public Affairs/Community Health Specialist
Managing Editor, SOM News
Office of Public Affairs & Communications
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Lauren.Robinson@som.umaryland.edu
Office: 410.706.7508
Work Cell: 443.743.9047

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