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Accolades & Honors

5 faculty won Pitt’s Health Sciences Ascending Star award

Blue flags with the Pitt shield emblem

Five University of Pittsburgh faculty members won the 2024 Health Sciences Ascending Star awards. Established in 2022, the honor recognizes highly productive and creative midcareer faculty in Pitt’s six schools of the health sciences.

"This Ascending Star Award is just one tangible way in which we can recognize the excellence of faculty members whose career trajectories continue to offer great promise and to encourage them to continue that upward momentum, while also serving as role models and mentors to their junior colleagues," said Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine.

Each recipient will receive $25,000 in research support and give a lecture at Pitt this year.

Meet the recipients

Mo Ebrahimkhani, associate professor in Pitt Medicine’s Department of Pathology, leads the Laboratory for Synthetic Biology and Regenerative Medicine. There, his team studies how genetic engineering can advance research in biological systems and be leveraged for the development of novel regenerative technologies. Ebrahimkhani is also a member of the Division of Experimental Pathology and the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center.

Timothy Hand directs the Gnotobiotic Animal Core Laboratory, which studies how the immune system handles newly colonizing bacteria and has received more than $500,000 in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The associate professor of pediatrics is also a Richard King Mellon Foundation scholar in the Institute for Pediatric Research.

Amy Hartman is an associate professor of infectious diseases and microbiology in the School of Public Health. Her research goal is to understand how emerging mosquito-transmitted viruses like the Rift Valley fever virus cause disease. She and her team decipher the mechanisms of understudied disease outcomes to advance the development of vaccines and therapeutics.

Dara Méndez, associate director of Pitt Public Health’s Center for Health Equity, has more than 20 years of experience in promoting racial and socioeconomic equity and justice in pregnancy, birth, and reproductive and women’s health. The associate professor of epidemiology leads research, practice and policy focused on structural and social determinants of health, particularly for Black populations.

Kenneth Urish is associate medical director at the Magee Bone and Joint Center, where his practice focuses on primary and revision hip and knee arthroplasty, or joint replacement. He also directs of the NIH-funded Arthritis and Arthroplasty Design Laboratory, which studies early arthritis prevention and optimizing joint replacement outcomes.