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Accolades & Honors

5 health science faculty members won 2023 Ascending Star Awards

The sun and the Cathedral of Learning show between tree branches

Five health sciences faculty members have been recognized with 2023 Ascending Star Awards, an honor that recognizes highly productive, creative midcareer faculty members.

Each awardee will receive $25,000 in research support and give a widely publicized lecture during the year. All lectures will take place at 3:30 p.m. in Alan Magee Scaife Hall, Room 5785.

Department chairs and center and institute directors are encouraged to start thinking now about faculty engaged in promising work yielding notable results. A formal request for the 2024 awards will come in January.

Kuipers stands in front of an American flag

Allison Kuipers, associate professor of epidemiology in Pitt’s School of Public Health, is a nationally recognized expert in cardiovascular and molecular epidemiology. Her work has focused on the epidemiology of molecular determinants for cardiovascular disease and age-related diseases. Kuipers (A&S ’07, GPSH ’11) has received multiple awards, including the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research John Haddad Young Investigator Award. Her lecture will take place Thursday, June 22.



A headshot of Luke

With a research focus on cancer immunotherapy, Associate Professor of Medicine Jason Luke leads a laboratory translating novel discoveries from human biospecimens into clinical trials for patients. His lab uses multiomic technologies to identify mechanisms allowing tumors to evade the immune system, and he is an international leader in first-in-human cancer immunotherapy drug development. He is the interim associate director for clinical research and director of the Immunotherapy and Drug Development Center at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. He earned his MD from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/Chicago Medical School. His lecture will take place Thursday, July 27.

A headshot of Ray

Research by Kristin Ray, associate professor in Pitt’s School of Medicine, has identified barriers children face in accessing specialty care and integrated telemedicine and electronic consultation to improve that access. The director of Pitt's General Academic Pediatrics Research Fellowship also received the 2018 AcademyHealth Nemours Child Health Services Research Award and earned her MD from the University of Pennsylvania. Ray will give her lecture Thursday, August 24.


Kranz rests her head on her hand

Elizabeth Krans, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, founded the Pregnancy and Women’s Recovery Center and created the Perinatal Addiction Consultation and Education Services at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. Krans, who earned her MD from the University of Mississippi, researches substance use disorder among women to better understand and develop protocols and solutions for challenges in women’s health services. Her lecture will take place Friday, September 29.


A headshot of Empey

With research expertise in pharmacogenomics, Philip Empey was involved in the first clinical translational pharmacogenomics program at UPMC and in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The associate professor’s work helps to use genotypes to guide precise clinical care for patients with cardiovascular disease. Empey earned his PharmD from the University of Rhode Island and his PhD from the University of Kentucky. He also developed the Test2Learn program, which helps train clinicians to integrate patient genotypes with treatment plans. His lecture will take place Thursday, October 26.