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Etta D. Pisano, M.D.

Vice President for Medical Affairs
Dean, College of Medicine

Dear Colleagues:

Philip Howe, PhD, Appointed Chair, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Philip Howe, PhD, as Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  He will be assuming this role effective October 1, 2012.  Dr. Howe received his B.A. from Augusta State University and his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Medical College of Georgia in 1988.  He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Cell Biology at Vanderbilt University from 1988-1990.  Following his fellowship, Dr. Howe joined the Department of Cell Biology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Research Institute as an Assistant Staff/Professor in 1990 and progressed through the ranks becoming Associate Staff/Professor in 1996 and Staff/Professor in 2001.  He was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Case Western Reserve University in 1992, where he progressed through the ranks becoming Associate Professor in 1998 and Full Professor in 2003.  Dr. Howe also held appointments as Professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and in the Department of Cancer Biology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Lerner Research Institute.  From 2010-2011, Dr. Howe served as Associate Director for Basic Science at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.  In 2011, Dr. Howe was recruited to MUSC as a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Associate Director of Basic Sciences for the Hollings Cancer Center, and was awarded the Hans and Helen Koebig Chair in Clinical Oncology.

Dr. Howe has an outstanding record of scientific achievements and has maintained extramural funding from multiple sources throughout his research career.  His research is focused on transforming growth factor b (TGFb) signaling pathways in mediating the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in epithelium and apoptosis in developing B-lymphocytes.  His lab was instrumental in the identification of non-canonical (non-Smad) TGFb signaling pathways, the role of the pro-apoptotic Bim protein in mediating apoptosis, the role of disabled-2 (Dab2) as an adaptor in TGFb signaling and in mediating the EMT response, and more recently the translational regulation of EMT-regulated mRNA transcripts by TGFb.  These recent studies have used a variety of models including zebrafish and animal cancer models to demonstrate that TGFb-mediated translational regulation plays an integral role during metastatic progression and establishment of stem cell characteristics in breast epithelium.

Dr. Howe has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and is a frequent ad hoc reviewer for numerous journals.  He has served on NIH and NCI study sections serving as either a full-member or ad hoc reviewer and has chaired several special emphasis panel reviews for the NIH.  In addition he has served as a reviewer for ACS, AHA, DoD, VA and several international grant agencies.  Through his career, Dr. Howe has provided research mentoring for more than 20 students and postdoctoral fellows many of whom hold independent faculty positions.  In addition to his research endeavors, he has been active in educational activities.  Dr. Howe served on the admissions and curriculum committees for both the medical (Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine) and graduate school program (Howard Hughes Program in Molecular Medicine) at the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.  He helped designed and implement problem-based learning cases for the medical school and has lectured in numerous graduate and medical courses. He has received honors including an American Lung Association Young Investigator Award, American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, Human Frontiers in Science Award, and the Scott Hamilton CARES Award.

Dr. Howe brings an excellent combination of research, teaching, and administrative skills to lead the growth and development of the department.  As we welcome Dr. Howe to his new role, please join me in thanking Dr. Bryan Toole for his service as Interim Chair of the department.

Nominate Faculty for the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee

The College of Medicine has 2 faculty-at-large positions available on the Medical Education Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC).  The UCC is responsible for “ensuring that the medical educational program within each academic year and across academic years adequately and fully addresses the institutional learning objectives for the educational program.”  Please submit nominations for these 2 positions to Kathy Brower ( by next Friday, October 5.  We will then follow up with a faculty vote.

Discussion Forums

As a reminder, we have created new electronic discussion platforms focusing on education, research, clinical affairs, and general information from the Dean’s Office and the College of Medicine.  These new forums are intended to serve several purposes.  First, they are another way for my office to share important information with faculty, staff, and students.  Second, they are meant to encourage discussion about issues within the college and to empower everyone within the college to voice their opinions.  These “discussion forums” are intended to be not only channels for messages to be sent out, but channels for YOUR ideas, comments and questions to be heard by college leadership.  Your voice matters and there is a new way for it to be heard.  You can access the different forums by using the following links and your net ID and password:

Faculty Breakfast Meetings

Faculty who are interested in attending one of my breakfast meetings should contact Beverly Carson,, and indicate which area of focus (clinical, research, education, administration) is of greatest interest to them.  These meetings will typically be held on Thursday mornings at 7:30 a.m.  I hope all faculty who would like to participate in these discussions will sign up for a future breakfast meeting.

As always ….

Let’s work together to meet our strategic planning goal – to be in the Top 25 among academic medical centers for reputation, quality, service, efficiency and financial performance by 2015.  I look forward to hearing from you - either in person or via email (