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The Catalyst

Graduate Studies dean retires, interim named

By Ashley Barker
Public Relations

Perry V. Halushka, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the College of Graduate Studies, retired Aug. 1.

In 1967 and 1970, Halushka earned his doctorates of philosophy and medicine, respectively, from the University of Chicago. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital and spent two years in the experimental therapeutics branch of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Perry Halushka addressed students during the May 17 commencement.
Dr. Perry Halushka addressed students during the May 17 commencement.

Halushka joined MUSC in 1974 as an assistant professor of pharmacology and medicine. Beginning in 1987, he became the director of the Medical Scientist Training Program, which allows students to obtain both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees simultaneously.

In 2000, Halushka was appointed dean of the College of Graduate Studies. He implemented, along with other faculty members, a common entry and core curriculum system for first-year graduate students, which nearly doubled the number of applicants, according to enrollment management data.

His research interests include molecular characterizations and regulation of thromboxane A2 receptors in disease processes with a particular emphasis in cancer. He’s also a Distinguished University Professor and member of the Lipid Signaling in Cancer research program at Hollings Cancer Center.

For the past six years, Halushka has served as co-director of the South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute along with MUSC’s Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“Dr. Halushka has been an extraordinary leader on the MUSC campus. He has made contributions in the area of research and training and has maintained a commitment to excellence and innovation that has been essential to development on the campus,” said Brady, who has known Halushka for about 20 years. “It has been an inspiration to work closely with him.”

Cynthia F. Wright, Ph.D., associate dean for admissions and career development in the College of Graduate Studies, said she learned about how to deal with challenging circumstances by observing Halushka.

“He approaches each situation with patience, humor and optimism,” Wright said. “The College of Graduate Studies has experienced tremendous growth during his leadership and has become competitive with the best graduate schools in the country. He has truly been dedicated to the college, and the impact he has had will last a long time.”

Dr. Perry Halushka, left, accepts the Charter of the Charleston Chapter of Sigma Xi from Dr. Jack Thomas, president of the chapter and a professor in the College of Health Professions.
Dr. Perry Halushka, left, accepts the Charter of the Charleston Chapter of Sigma Xi from Dr. Jack Thomas, president of the chapter and a professor in the College of Health Professions.

Donald R. Menick, Ph.D., director of the Gazes Cardiac Research Institute, met Halushka in 1987. Halushka was in the process of moving his laboratory from the Basic Science Building to the Clinical Sciences Building.

“Because our labs and offices were so close to each other, we had lots of opportunities to casually interact. It quickly became apparent that Perry really cared about his graduate students, postdocs and technicians, and he was a great role model for those of us who were just getting started in our research careers,” Menick said. “I was thrilled when he was appointed dean of the College of Graduate Studies and was sure that he would do great things for the college. I wasn’t disappointed. His efforts over the past 13 years have done so much for MUSC, for our graduate faculty and for each of our predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees.”

When Stephen M. Lanier, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and associate provost for research, was initially recruited to the MUSC Department of Pharmacology in 1991, he set up his lab next to Halushka’s in the Clinical Sciences Building.

“From even before we met, Dr. Halushka and I shared common interests in cardiovascular regulation and the biology of G-protein coupled receptor systems. I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to come to MUSC and work with Perry and his team,” Lanier said. “The professional, personal and scientific seeds planted in the early 90s via this relationship continues. Perry is a colleague of the highest character with a sense of graciousness that inspires those around him to higher levels of achievement.”

Edward Krug, Ph.D., associate dean for postdoctoral affairs, said Halushka shepherded the college into the “new millennium of biomedical training that transcends traditional departmental boundaries.”

“His leadership style inspired creative approaches to challenges facing all graduate programs, championing a diverse and critically thinking community of trainees,” Krug said.

Halushka is an active participant in the Association of American Medical Colleges’ GREAT Group since its formation in the 1990s and served on its steering committee from 2007-2010.

Ann Bonham, Ph.D., chief scientific officer for AAMC, said, “Perry is a champion of biomedical research education and training. Perry is a strong proponent of team science, a leader in training a diverse Ph.D. and physician-scientist workforce, and a mentor to numerous trainees and colleagues. His contribution to the research training community has been invaluable.”

MUSC President Raymond S. Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., who will resign from MUSC at the end of August in order to assume the position of executive vice chancellor for health affairs at The University of Texas System, said Halushka “made many contributions to the medical university over his long and distinguished service here.”

“The capstone was his leadership of the College of Graduate Studies through a period of great growth, but I will remember his contributions in two specific areas,” Greenberg said. “The first was his leadership in securing and maintaining support from NIH for the M.D./Ph.D. program. The second was his drive to bring in more traineeship funding from NIH and other sources. These are just two examples of what he has done to raise the bar here, and he will leave behind a great legacy of academic excellence.”

Mark Sothmann, Ph.D., who will be interim president when Greenberg steps down, said Halushka served as a mentor to “countless” students and faculty during his tenure.

“The number and prestige of pre-doctoral training grants secured places the College of Graduate Studies among the best in the country,” Sothmann said. “As director of the Medical Scientist Training Program, Dr. Halushka has seen MSTP students go on to positions such as the University of California-San Francisco, University of Texas-Southwestern, Stanford University, and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard, among many others. The Dr. Perry Halushka Research Day is celebrated by the campus annually to acknowledge the research being conducted by students. MUSC is fortunate to have had Dr. Halushka lead the college during the past decade.”

The college announced Jacqueline McGinty, Ph.D., associate dean of the college and professor in the Department of Neurosciences, will be interim dean until a permanent replacement is named. She said the college has “grown exponentially” since Halushka took the helm.

“Implementing a ‘united we stand’ philosophy, he engaged the graduate faculty to develop a biomedical science common curriculum that brought first-year Ph.D. students together in one learning environment. He implemented renewable five-year strategic plans with achievable milestones to enlarge the quality and quantity of student body diversity and the programs to enhance their scholarship,” McGinty said. “He motivated faculty and students to submit extramural training grants to enhance funding and resources. His watchword of ‘persevere’ has inspired and encouraged many students to overcome personal challenges and reach their goals.”

As interim dean, McGinty said she will rely on Halushka’s “steadfast leadership and institutional memory” to help her make a seamless transition.

July 31, 2013

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