Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, Linden Hu, and Karl Munger are the inaugural recipients
Three Tufts University School of Medicine faculty members in the vanguard of efforts to combat Lyme disease, cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), and disparities in Black maternal health are the inaugural recipients of donor-funded professorships that will support continued discovery while also honoring those for whom the professorships are named.
Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, associate professor and assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, is the Julia A. Okoro Professor in Black Maternal Health; Linden Hu, vice dean for research at the school and a professor of molecular biology and microbiology, is the Paul and Elaine Chervinsky Professor in Immunology; and Karl Munger, chair of the Department of Developmental, Molecular and Chemical Biology, is the Dorothy Todd Bishop Research Professor.
Amutah-Onukagha serves on the board of directors for the National Women’s Health Network and is a commissioner on Massachusetts’ new Racial Inequities in Maternal Health steering committee. She received her Ph.D. in maternal and child health from the University of Maryland School of Public Health and completed a Kellogg Health Scholars postdoctoral fellowship. She was an assistant professor in public health at New Jersey’s Montclair State University before coming to Tufts.
Her professorship, named after her maternal grandmother, who was a birth attendant, or midwife, in Nigeria, was established anonymously by two donors to support Black maternal health research. Amutah-Onukagha said the professorship is “the professional culmination of my personal passion and life that is steeped in maternal health and health equity.” She hopes that the scholarship it supports at Tufts “will serve as a national example of how to do this work with a community-engaged lens of equity and transparency.”
His scholarship has already led to more than 20 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling more than $35 million, and he has served on multiple NIH study sections and advisory boards. Hu’s ability to inspire the next generation of Jumbos has garnered multiple teaching awards from students at the School of Medicine. He earned his M.D. from Brown University and completed an internal medicine residency at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston and an infectious diseases fellowship at Tufts Medical Center.
Allergist Paul Chervinsky, A48, M52, A77P, J79P, and his wife, Elaine, endowed the professorship following Chervinsky’s long career as medical director and principal investigator at Northeast Medical Research Associates Inc. “I feel an obligation to honor Dr. Chervinsky’s gift and make an impact on human health through a greater understanding of immune responses to pathogens,” said Hu.
“Philanthropic support is key to keep innovation going,” he said. The professorship will enable him to explore new areas of research, collect preliminary data necessary to pursue grants, and catalyze new collaborations with Tufts, Wellforce, and international colleagues.
Munger has served on multiple NIH study sections and advisory panels and is an elected member of the American Academy of Microbiology. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Zurich and performed postdoctoral research at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. He started his independent research career as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, where he later became a professor before moving his research group to Tufts in 2014.
Munger’s professorship was established through an estate gift from Stephen L. Bishop, EG70, to support a faculty member who conducts clinical and/or basic science research designed to encourage development of treatments for malignant diseases such as cancer. It honors the excellent care Bishop’s late wife, Dorothy, received from School of Medicine faculty member and hematologist Jane Desforges, M45.