Faculty snapshots, Spring ‘23

Thuy Bui received the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s 2022 Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award for her decades of work advancing the well-being of underserved populations, immigrants and refugees.

Bui, an MD professor of medicine, has been director of the Global Health and Underserved Populations Residency Track at Pitt Med and UPMC for more than 15 years.

Her work is motivated in part by her own life story: After leaving her native Vietnam at 11 years old, she and her family stayed at a refugee camp in Malaysia before arriving in the United States. Bui later entered the Peace Corps and served as head of the Medical Department of Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi, for two years; she maintains relationships in the country and works to further education opportunities and health services there.

Until 2017, she headed the Birmingham Free Clinic. She still sees patients there weekly.

J. Timothy Greenamyre won the 2022 Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson’s Research, among the field’s most prestigious honors. Greenamyre is the Love Family Professor and vice chair of neurology at Pitt Med and director of the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases.

Awarded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the prize recognizes Greenamyre’s extensive contributions to our understanding of the disease. His research into genetic and environmental factors helped demonstrate that pesticides like rotenone and paraquat contribute to the disease. The rotenone model he developed continues to inform other researchers studying the causes of—and treatments for—Parkinson’s disease.

Greenamyre, an MD, PhD, also added to the evidence suggesting that mitochondrial function could go awry in Parkinson’s.

“My relationship with my patients is what motivates me,” says Greenamyre, who was recently featured in Science.

Alok Joglekar received the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award, which supports early career scientists pursuing unconventional approaches to major challenges.

Joglekar is a PhD assistant professor of immunology and member of the Center for Systems Immunology. He and his team engineer molecules to manipulate the T cells in the immune system, boosting their ability to fight cancer and keeping them from attacking healthy tissues. Typically, T cells respond to target cells when their receptors recognize antigens displayed on molecules; Joglekar’s engineered molecules allow other immune cells to respond and influence T cell function.

“We’ve essentially converted a one-way street into a two-way,” Joglekar says. He hopes the research will lead to new treatments for diseases such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis and enhance immunotherapies for tumors.

The award, Joglekar says, “allows us to dive head-first into these ideas and gives us a cushion for taking risks.”

—Staff reports