UM Vice Chancellor Honored as Prestigious AAAS Fellow

Alice Clark cited for research achievements, service to National Institutes of Health

Alice M. Clark

Alice M. Clark

OXFORD, Miss. – Alice M. Clark, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs and Frederick A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy at the University of Mississippi, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Election as a fellow is bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers based on the candidates’ scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. This year’s 401 new AAAS fellows will be formally announced in the Nov. 28 issue of the journal Science, the largest peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with 1 million readers.

“This is an outstanding recognition of Vice Chancellor Alice Clark’s accomplishments,” said Morris Stocks, UM provost. “She is an exemplary educator and a distinguished scientist who holds the respect of her colleagues. Her commitment to excellence is matched only by her commitment to research and service.”

Being named an AAAS fellow is one of the highest honors in the sciences and engineering, one shared by only three other current UM faculty members. Clark joins Julius Cruse, professor and director of immunopathology in the UM School of Medicine, who was elected in 1970; Marjorie Holland, a professor of biology who was elected in 1991; and Steven Case, professor of biochemistry in the School of Medicine, who was elected in 2002.

Stephen Duke, research leader at the USDA Agricultural Research Service unit in the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research, also is an AAAS fellow, elected in 1993. Russell Aven, a retired UM professor of chemical engineering, was elected in 1960 and former pharmacognosy professor James McChesney was elected in 1995.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by this recognition,” Clark said. “I realize my good fortune to have enjoyed an exciting and fulfilling career at an institution that values scholarship and service to society. I also know full well that whatever accomplishments are attributed to me are, in truth, shared accomplishments with my many colleagues here at the University of Mississippi and throughout the country with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. I accept this honor as a tribute to our collective efforts over 35 years.”

A member of the organization’s Section on Pharmaceutical Sciences, Clark was cited for her “tremendous contributions to pharmacognosy of anti-infective agents, leadership in university science and stellar service to the National Institutes of Health review system.”

As part of that system, Clark has served on for many years or chaired scientific review panels that evaluate NIH and other grant applications to help the agencies fund the most promising research.

Clark earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Troy State University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in pharmacognosy at UM. After spending a year as a Robert F. Welch Fellow at the Drug Dynamics Institute at the University of Texas, she returned to Ole Miss, where she helped establish the longest continually funded antifungal research program in NIH history.

Working in the School of Pharmacy, Clark and colleagues, including Charles Hufford, the school’s associate dean for research and graduate programs, found and patented several compounds that killed or inhibited Candida albicans, the fungus behind an opportunistic infection that threatens AIDS patients and others with compromised immune systems. The team’s research program has been funded by NIH since 1984 and has brought in more than $7.4 million and led to the identification of many new natural products.

They also developed a microbial model for predicting the human metabolites of primaquine, an antimalarial drug that produces hemolytic anemia in some people and to which some parasites have become immune.

Clark has authored or contributed to more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles and numerous invited book chapters, nonrefereed publications and presentations.

She also has served on NIH’s AIDS and Related Research Experimental Therapeutics Study Section and on the Biorganic and Natural Products Chemistry Study Section, and is associate editor of the Journal of Natural Products. She is a past president of the American Society of Pharmacognosy and an American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Fellow, a designation limited to the association’s top pharmaceutical scientists.

For her successes, Clark was awarded the university’s Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship in 1989 and the School of Pharmacy Faculty Research Award in 1993. She was named the director of the then-new National Center for Natural Products Research in 1996 and was named as a Frederick A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor in 1998.

Since 2001, she has served as the university’s chief research officer, working to increase awareness of the university’s research enterprise and serving as an advocate for all faculty researchers as they seek funding and recognition for their efforts.

“In her role as vice chancellor, Dr. Clark has made great strides in advancing scientific research in countless university programs,” said David D. Allen, dean of the UM School of Pharmacy. “Her commitment to research awareness has been demonstrated repeatedly through her many efforts at the national level, specifically by serving on National Institutes of Health scientific review panels. She even put together a Pharmaceutical Sciences session for the AAAS annual meeting last year.

“We are fortunate that she spent two decades working for the pharmacy school before assuming her current post. This incredible honor from AAAS is well-deserved, and I congratulate her on this achievement.”

In her role as vice chancellor, Clark coordinated the university’s involvement in Blueprint Mississippi, an extensive one-year research project focusing on how public and private sectors can strengthen and expand the state’s economy and competitiveness, and responses to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She also has overseen the development of Insight Park, the university’s research park, and its centerpiece, the Innovation Hub.

“Through visionary leadership, meritorious efforts and unwavering dedication, Dr. Clark has helped lead the University of Mississippi through a period of remarkable growth and scientific achievement,” Stocks said. “I am pleased that Dr. Clark has been recognized and selected for this tremendous honor. She has made a profound and lasting impact on the University of Mississippi. We are indebted to Dr. Clark for her countless contributions.”

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society. Founded in 1848, it includes 254 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Besides Science, the association also publishes the journals Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling.

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