INVITATION: Researcher, Scholar and Inventor of the Year

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and the Office of Technology Management at the University of Illinois at Chicago are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 UIC Researcher and Scholar of the Year awards and the 2017 Inventor of the Year.  These awards recognize and celebrate the efforts and commitment of individuals who advance knowledge as well as inspire and promote continued excellence in research and scholarship at UIC.

The OVCR and the OTM would like to thank the campus community for the wealth of compelling nominations submitted for the Researcher and Scholar of the Year Awards as well as the Inventor of the Year awards, which are a testimony to the depth and range of scholarly excellence at UIC.

In honor of the recipients of the UIC Researcher and Scholar of the Year Award and the Inventor of the Year, an awards ceremony and reception will be held on February 7, 2018, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Michele M. Thompson Rooms of the UIC Student Center West at 828 South Wolcott Avenue.

To RSVP for the award ceremony, or for more information, please go to

For questions about the ceremony, please contact Jacqueline Berger at

Researcher and Scholar of the Year

The Distinguished Researcher award will be given this year to five UIC faculty who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their respective fields of expertise.  The Rising Star awards for 2017 go to three UIC early career scholars who have demonstrated outstanding promise to become future leaders in their field.

The 2017 honorees are:

Basic Life Sciences

  • Distinguished: Papasani Subbaiah Ph.D., Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, College of Medicine

One of the leading experts in the field of lipid research and lipidomics, Dr. Subbaiah’s work spans multiple critical health areas including atherosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other neuro-inflammatory diseases. His impressive list of over 120 publications demonstrates not only Dr. Subbaiah’s brilliant scientific achievements, but also underscores his ability to contribute to fruitful collaborations and share his scientific acumen with others. His skill in obtaining funding was critical to establishing the Lipid Mass Spectrometry core at UIC, thus ensuring we remain at the forefront of research in lipidomics capabilities. It is for all these contributions over his career that Dr. Subbaiah has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 UIC Distinguished Researcher of the Year Award in the field of Basic and Life Sciences.

  • Rising Star: Terry Moore, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy and Department of Chemistry, College of Pharmacy

At this still early stage of his career, Dr. Moore has earned an outstanding reputation as a highly respected, productive and skillful researcher focused on developing chemical probes that target an important, yet understudied, group of drug targets – transcription factors, which are proteins regulating gene expression. This work on developing inhibitors of protein-protein interactions, with a focus on nuclear receptor/steroid receptor coactivator interactions, has great promise as a class of drug targets for cancer therapy. In addition to his awards for teaching, Dr. Moore has received significant external funding, with one of his NIH proposals scoring in the 3rd percentile, an almost unheard of achievement. Dr. Moore’s career trajectory has been exemplary, and he is well worthy of the honor of being named the 2017 UIC Rising Star Researcher of the Year Award in the field of Basic and Life Sciences.

Clinical Sciences

  • Distinguished: Richard Novak, M.D., Professor, Department of Medicine, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, College of Medicine

Dr. Novak has played a transforming role in altering the paradigm of how HIV is treated.  For the past 20 years, his scholarship has focused on developing preventive vaccines, and under his leadership, the UIC site obtained the highest enrollment of high-risk women for HIV preventive vaccine trials in the western hemisphere.  As a pillar of the research community, Dr. Novak has chaired multiple committees and participated in numerous study sections both internal to UIC and externally for federal funding agencies.  A prolific author with over 100 publications in leading journals, Dr. Novak is well recognized for his excellent scholarship and ground-breaking scientific investigations. He is exactly the type of accomplished, well-respected colleague the Researcher/Scholar of the Year Award was designed to honor and we are pleased to name him as the 2017 UIC Distinguished Researcher of the Year Award winner in the field of Clinical Sciences.

  • Rising Star: Maria Argos, Ph.D., MPH, Associate Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health

Dr. Maria Argos embodies the definition of a ‘rising star’. Since her arrival at UIC in 2014, she has developed a network of collaborators and been credited with having ‘a general energizing effect on research efforts’ broadly across the health science campus.  For example, Dr. Argos has played a leadership role in the All of Us Research Program, an ambitious NIH funded effort to assess differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics as they pertain to a variety of health outcomes. She was an important member of the leadership development team for the recently awarded P30 Chicago Center for Health and Environment (CACHET) Center grant in collaboration with the University of Chicago. Her significant contributions to her field(s) of research, her outreach to the broader community through her service commitments, publications and invited talks, coupled with her exemplary record of securing external funding make her a true rising star and a deserving recipient of the 2017 UIC Rising Star Researcher of the Year Award in the field of Clinical Sciences.

Social Sciences

  • Distinguished: Kimberly Lawless Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research, College of Education, Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Throughout the course of her professional career, Dr. Lawless’ research has led the way in transforming education systems and practices through the innovative use of technology, particularly in K-12 settings. Her inter-disciplinary research agenda spans the fields of education, psychology and technology, including the emerging area of digital literacy and demonstrates ‘the positive impact learning with and through technology can have on all students, including students in struggling, often under-resourced, urban contexts’. The importance of her work has made a significant and lasting difference in the lives of thousands of students, teachers and educational professionals, not only in Chicago, but across the world.  It is for this reason that she has been named the 2017 UIC Distinguished Researcher of the Year in the field of Social Sciences.

  • Rising Star: Dima Mazen Qato, PharmD, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy, College of Pharmacy

The term ‘pharmacy deserts’ has been coined to identify the lack of accessibility to medication in poor and minority communities, which is particularly relevant to the current national conversation on systematic racial and ethnic health disparities. It was the work of Dr. Qato that not only opened the discussion in both the academic and popular press on the impact of pharmacy closures in urban areas, but also identified evidence that older adults are using increasing numbers of prescription drugs, often in potentially deadly medication combinations. Dr. Qato’s profound commitment to improving public health, medication safety and health disparities through her extraordinary scholarship make her particularly well positioned to be named the 2017 UIC Rising Star Researcher of the Year in the field of Social Sciences.


  • Distinguished: Isabel Cruz, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering

Dr. Cruz has played a key role in making the City of Chicago a leader in implementing the “Smart City” program, a new means of allowing city administrators to use analytics to direct limited government resources efficiently. Working in the field of Big Data, at the intersection of databases and information systems, the novelty of Dr. Cruz’s work lies in the combination of the conventional geospatially-based and semantically-based controls with collaboration-based control. Applying her innovative filter-and-prune data mining techniques to reduce the number of patterns extracted from large data sets, while at the same time retaining their predictive ability, she has made it possible to analyze large data sets in fields as seemingly diverse as crime statistics and weather patterns, and identify causal relationships. This groundbreaking research has resulted in Professor Cruz being named the 2017 UIC Distinguished Researcher of the Year in the field of Natural Sciences and Engineering.

  • Rising Star: No award given

Arts and Humanities

  • Distinguished: Lennard Davis, PhD, Professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

As a founder and leader in the field of Disability Studies, Dr. Davis’s publications comprise a library of the most important essays and ideas in this area, and through his role as editor of several key publications, he has exercised extraordinary influence over rethinking societal assumptions about normalcy. His publication, Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disability Act Gave the Largest US Minority Its Rights (Beacon Press, 2015), a landmark history of the ADA and its wide-ranging impact, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In 2015, in recognition of his contributions to the field of Disability Studies, Dr. Davis was honored with an invitation to The White House to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disability Act. In recognition of his leadership in the field of Disability Studies, Dr. Davis has been selected to receive the UIC Distinguished Scholar of the Year Award in the field of Arts and Humanities for 2017.

  • Rising Star: No award given

For questions regarding these awards, please contact Mary Frances Miley at

Inventor of the Year

The Inventor of the Year Award honors an outstanding inventor or team of inventors at the University of Illinois at Chicago who have contributed to the development of intellectual property that significantly impacts their field and society. The award is given based on the criteria of creativity, novelty, and the commercial benefit to society.

2017 Winner: Sandeep Jain, MD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, College of Medicine

Dr. Jain has worked tirelessly to bring new treatments for ocular diseases through the commercialization process. His innovative technology, brimonidine eyedrops, received Orphan Drug designation by the FDA, and he is currently spearheading the protocol development necessary for this technology to enter Phase II clinical trials. Earlier this year, Dr. Jain received a UIC Proof of Concept award to aid in further development of his DNase I eye drop technology, a treatment for ocular GVHD and for dry eye disease.  Because of his hard work and commitment, this new technology is set to enter Phase I/II clinical trials.  Finally, Dr. Jain has formed a startup company, ADVAITE, and recently submitted a Small Business Technology Transfer application to the NIH to support further development of treatments for ocular diseases.

For more information, please contact:
Jacqueline Berger

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