Internationally renowned scientist Shuk-Mei Ho, PhD, has joined the University of Arkansas for Medical Science (UAMS) College of Medicine as its vice chancellor for research.
“We could not be more fortunate to have a leader of Dr. Ho’s caliber joining our team,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, MD, MBA. “Her close to four decades of leadership experience in academic medicine will be an invaluable asset to our institution as we explore new frontiers in science to improve the health of all Arkansans.”
Since 2005, Ho was the Jacob G. Schmidlapp Professor and chairwoman of the Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She recruited over two dozen faculty members, and successfully renewed three times an Environmental Health Sciences Center grant named Center for Environmental Genetics (P30), funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
She built a Council on Education for Public Health-accredited Public Health Program, ushered in next-generation sequencing and big data science, and brought in close to $40-million extramural funding for research and infrastructure advancement to the university.
In 2011, she was appointed as director of Cincinnati Cancer Center and later named the Hayden Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research. She led consortium members in the Cincinnati Children Hospital Medical Center, UCHealth, and the University of Cincinnati work towards the goal of attaining NCI designation.
Prior to Cincinnati, Ho’s experience includes the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she was vice chair for research in the Department of Surgery and director for translational research in urological disorders. She also served Tufts University as associate dean for research in the School of Graduate Studies, Research, and Continuing Education.
“I look forward to leading UAMS to the next level of research excellence,” said Ho. “Together, we will tackle broad tasks like reducing health disparities in underserved populations, establishing a leading-edge research in digital health, as well as undertake specific goals such as National Cancer Institute cancer center designation for the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.”
Ho received bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Hong Kong. Her research interests pertain to the role of hormones and endocrine disruptors, and the interplay between genetics and epigenetics, in disease development as well as how early-life experiences can be a root cause in later development of cancers, asthma, neural disorders, and other complex chronic diseases. Her work – published in more than 240 articles – has pioneered the fields of environmental epigenetics and developmental origins of adult disease. This body of highly innovative and paradigm-changing research has advanced basic science and catalyzed major changes in public health and medical practices in the nation and around the globe.
In 2007, the Ohio Senate, during its 127th General Assembly, recognized Ho’s research linking chemical exposure while in the womb and prostate cancer development later in life as an Outstanding Achievement and honored her as one of Ohio’s finest citizens. She also received the Women in Urology Award from the Society of Basic Urologic Research and the Society of Women in Urology in the same year. Ho won the first Mentor of Excellence Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation in 2013. She was recognized by the University of Cincinnati with the 2015 George Rieveschl Award for Distinguished Scientific Research, and by the College of Medicine with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017, she also received the Daniel Drake Medal, the highest honor awarded by the College of Medicine based on outstanding achievements in biomedical science.