Engineering to Participate in New UI Genetics Hiring Cluster

Saturday, July 9, 2011

University of Iowa News Release

Ten new faculty will be hired in seven different University of Iowa colleges -- including Engineering -- to work jointly with existing faculty in the expanding needs of the study of genetics and genomics.

The area of study is one of two newly approved endeavors under the university's five-year cluster hire initiative, "Meeting the Grand Challenges of the 21st Century." The other area is in studying obesity in which an additional 10 faculty members will be hired. Through the initiatives the university will hire faculty in interdisciplinary groups to build on UI strengths and help the university achieve distinction in targeted areas.

The UI Genetics Initiative will be under the leadership of Jeffrey Murray, M.D., Roy J. Carver Chair in Perinatal Health and professor of pediatrics with joint appointments in biological sciences, dentistry, nursing and epidemiology and Richard Smith, M.D., the Sterba Hearing Research Professor and vice-chair otolaryngology-head and neck surgery.

In this initiative, 10 new faculty members will work with existing faculty in six colleges to address the current needs of genetic research and translational science as well as anticipating future growth in these areas.

The colleges participating in the UI Genetics Initiative include: the Carver College of Medicine; the College of Public Health; the College of Engineering; the College of Nursing; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and the College of Law.

The College of Engineering already participates significantly through its Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering, along with the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.

"The University of Iowa has a distinguished record of clinical care and research in genetics beginning in the 1970s," Murray said, "but there are compelling needs to have a new generation of faculty to enable us to keep pace in teaching and research with rapid changes in technologies, computational approaches to genetics and the ethical, legal and social issues created by the role of genetics in insurance, forensics, patenting and behavior."

"The genetics and obesity clusters are further evidence of what we hoped to accomplish with the cluster program," said Tom Rice, UI associate provost for faculty, who oversaw the proposal process. "These initiatives will bring together talented people from different academic areas and build on their strengths in ways that will further distinguish the University of Iowa in education, research and community service."

The Office of the Provost kicked off the cluster hire program in 2009 with a 10-faculty cluster in water sustainability, led by the College of Engineering. Two other clusters, on digital public humanities and aging of the mind and brain, were approved in 2010.

For more information on the cluster hire initiative see: