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Founder's Award 2015 - M. Kerry O'Banion
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Photo of M. Kerry O'Banion M. Kerry O'Banion, MD, PhD


Michael "Kerry" O’Banion M.D., Ph.D. is a Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Neurobiology & Anatomy at Rochester University School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. O’Banion received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois School of Medicine. His lab focuses on innate immune activation in the brain, a term now referred to as neuroinflammation, and its contributions to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease and other brain diseases. Based on his pioneering work in the area of cyclooxygenase-2 and inflammation, he initiated a research program that has focused on understanding the role of neuroinflammation in Alzheimer disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. The main goal is to understand the role of neuroinflammation and oxidative stress in promoting injury and to determine whether therapeutic interventions targeting these processes can alleviate late radiation effects, including cognitive changes.

Besides his many academic accolades, Dr. O’Banion has been honored for his vital role in the mentorship of young physician-scientists. He has had a vital hand in training over 20 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. He received the George W. Corner Dean’s Teaching Scholar award and the Graduate Student Society Faculty Teaching Award.

Award Remarks

Freddy Nguyen - April 25th, 2015 at the APSA Dinner

Freddy Nguyen, APSA's Founder, presented the 2015 Founder's Award to Dr. O'Banion at the 2015 APSA Annual Meeting dinner. Prior to delivering the award, Freddy spoke of Dr. O'Banion's contributions to APSA, and his remarks are below.

It gives me great pleasure today to present the APSA Founder's Award, supported by the APSA Board of Directors, in recognition of extraordinary and dedicated service to APSA. APSA was founded over a decade ago by a group of individuals who came together for the purpose of creating a community for physician-scientist trainees to call home, to seek support, advice, and mentoring. Over the years, many have contributed to the success of this organization, ranging from trainees to program directors to faculty members.

Today, I am very honored to present the APSA Founder's Award to an old friend and extraordinary mentor, Dr. Kerry O'Banion, who has been a stalwart supporter of APSA and students in general. When I first asked Kerry to serve on the APSA Board, many years ago, he simply asked "So, what would the commitment be like?" At first, I responded just be a few one-hour board meetings throughout the year. Of course, at the time, little did either of us know how quickly and successfully APSA would come to grow.

However, through the ups and downs of the organizations, Kerry has always been a constant force of support and advice in spite of my constant emails and phone calls and the occasional burning of the midnight oil when we were submitting grants. He provided mentoring advice without being overbearing or judgmental. He gave us the opportunity as trainees to find for ourselves what APSA should be, what trainees needed and how best we could serve the needs of trainees. Kerry is currently one of the two longest-serving members of the APSA Board, serving even longer than I have. He also serves on the nominations committee of the Board of Directors, recruiting potential individuals to the APSA board.

Photo of M. Kerry O'Banion and Freddy Nguyen at the Founders Award ceremony Dr. O'Banion and Freddy Nguyen at the Founders Award Ceremony

Besides his direct contributions to APSA, he has also advocated for APSA in the many other roles that he plays. As MD/PhD Program Director at the University of Rochester, he very early on provided funding for students of his school to attend this meeting. When we started having Institutional Representatives for the organization, he advocated for Rochester to introduce APSA Institutional Representatives there and to integrate them into the student government there. As a leader among the MD/PhD Program Directors Association, he continued to advocate for open communication and collaboration between our two groups.

As an individual, he became the first person to be a lifetime member of the organization. But in talking to his students, it is easy to see how he truly cared for and how committed he is to each student as individuals. When I asked one of his former students, Kofi Mensah, to say a few words, he wrote to me saying, "Goethe said a great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together". This can be said of Kerry O'Banion as a leader and mentor. Countless trainees have flourished under his leadership of the Rochester MSTP, and when these trainees move out into the world of biomedical research, Kerry continues to mentor them, enabling them to become future leaders and role models in their own right. So please join me tonight in congratulating Kerry with this honor and thanking him for his unwavering dedication and commitment to APSA.