Maryland Commerce Supports Research Professorships at Six Higher Education Institutions

The University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Johns Hopkins University; the Maryland Institute College of Art; Goucher College and Hood College raise matching funds to promote research and technology

BALTIMORE, MD (October 20, 2020) – The Maryland Department of Commerce; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Johns Hopkins University; the Maryland Institute College of Art; Goucher College, and Hood College have endowed a total of more than $13.1 million in new research professorships. The endowments were made through the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund (MEIF), a state program created to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields at colleges and universities. The schools raised a total of more than $6.6 million in private funding and Maryland Commerce approved matching grants of over $6.5 million to support the endowments.

“Commerce is celebrating Maryland’s innovative businesses and entrepreneurs in 2020, so we’re very pleased to provide our world-class higher education institutions with these awards, which will drive future innovation and economic growth,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “This year, more than ever, we recognize the importance of supporting bold, creative new ideas to help Maryland–and the world–overcome obstacles and thrive.”

The University of Maryland, Baltimore received four MEIF awards totaling $2.3 million in matching funds to support four research professorships.

  • Dr. Lishan Su has been named the Charles Gordon Smith Endowed Professor for HIV Research, and will lead basic and applied research in HIV/AIDS and other virally-linked diseases as well as vaccine development.
  • Dr. Peter B. Crino, who chairs the Department of Neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has been retained by the university and awarded the Dr. Richard and Kathryn Taylor Professorship in Neurology. Crino will work to foster innovation and discovery in the field of translational neurosciences with a focus on new applications towards clinical use and potential commercialization to bring new intellectual capital to the state.
  • The Richard P. Barth Professorship in Children’s Services Research at the University of Maryland School of Social Work will work to accelerate the development of new treatments for clients within and beyond Maryland, providing mentorship of the school’s graduate students, post-docs, trainees and faculty, and increasing the commercialization and establishment of new interventions, clinical technologies, and services. The school’s goal is for the future Barth Professor to bring additional resources and grants to Maryland to build programs for children that offset the state’s costs of remedial and corrective education, health, and justice services.
  • The Dr. Paul & Mrs. Jean Corcoran Endowed Professorship at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry will support the work of Robert K. Ernst, PhD, professor and vice chair at UMSOD’s Department of Microbial Pathogenesis.  Ernst’s work focuses on the interplay between a bacterial pathogen and the host defense mechanism has led to the development of a diagnostic test to more rapidly identify bacteria- and fungi-caused infections. He is also co-founder of a company, Pataigin, aimed at developing a method to quickly identify disease-producing agents.

“I am deeply grateful for the support toward these four endowed professorships,” said University of Maryland, Baltimore President Dr. Bruce E. Jarrell.Attracting and retaining the most creative and innovative research minds is a powerful investment in scientific advancement and economic development in Maryland. At the same time, our academic environment at the University of Maryland, Baltimore will be enriched by the groundbreaking discoveries they will achieve.”

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Division of Cardiology received $900,000 in matching MEIF funds to support the innovative and entrepreneurial research activity of Dr. Luigi Adamo, a talented physician scientist who specializes in caring for patients with advanced heart failure.  Dr. Adamo has discovered a novel inflammatory pathway in the heart that causes heart failure and identified a novel class of drugs that targets this pathway and may cure certain types of heart failure. He has also founded a start-up company called i-Cordis to develop and commercialize his discovery. This work has significant potential to create jobs for the citizens of Maryland, attract investment into the State, and expand Baltimore as a hub of biotechnology.

“Receiving this E-Nnovation award is a bit like hitting the grant trifecta,” said Johns Hopkins University Vice Provost for Research Denis Wirtz. “It gives us the opportunity to nurture the professional potential of a young physician scientist, advance medical innovation, and enhance the intellectual and fiscal strength of our state at the same time. Our continued gratitude to the Department of Commerce for this forward thinking program.”

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County will use the MEIF award to support the Sinha E-nnovate Chair, an endowed professorship in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The chair honors Bimal Sinha, professor of mathematics and statistics at UMBC since 1985. Sinha and his sons, Jit Sinha and Shomo Sinha, generously contributed an initial $750,000 to the endowment. Alumni and friends of the university then contributed an additional $150,000. The $900,000 MEIF award matches the total, increasing the endowment to $1.8 million.

UMBC’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics offers a nationally top-ranked graduate program in statistics, which Bimal Sinha founded. Researchers in the department specialize, among other fields, in machine learning and big data. Their work influences fields from cybersecurity to genomics. Faculty participate in research partnerships with industry and government agencies from the U.S. Census Bureau to the EPA, creating unique opportunities for students to explore an ever-widening landscape of potential statistics careers.

“Bringing the MEIF to UMBC will further enhance the university’s statistics program and its reputation, increasing our ability to recruit talented faculty and students from diverse backgrounds,” said UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski. “Kudos to Dean Bill LaCourse for his leadership, and to Professor Bimal Sinha for his amazing body of work. Bimal has not only engaged in groundbreaking research for decades, but has also produced and championed an impressive number of influential Black statisticians throughout Africa.”

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) received $500,000 in matching MEIF funds to expand and sustain the Design & Health Initiative of the MICA Center for Social Design (CSD). The grant is the second of two MEIF awards for MICA, both matched by equal commitments from philanthropist George L. Bunting, Jr.. The Design & Health endowment, now totaling $2 million, was created for two primary purposes: to expand the Center’s health-related collaborations by sustaining the key leadership position of a staff co-director, currently held by author, designer and social entrepreneur Lee Davis; and to scale a unique post-graduate program of embedding designers into healthcare and public health institutions across the state that have a commitment to health equity. These designers pilot and sustain new ways of integrating the human-centered design process into their partner institutions’ ongoing work so that they will better understand the life experience and context of the people they serve and thereby create more innovative and effective solutions for particularly vulnerable populations.

“This generous endowment gift from the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund will allow the Center for Social Design to further expand our pioneering partnerships with public health partners across Baltimore and Maryland,” said Mike Weikert, founding director of the MICA Center for Social Design. “Growing our Design & Health endowment enables us to attract and retain the top creative talent we need to further develop and demonstrate a truly human-centered, interdisciplinary, social impact design practice focused on addressing health disparities in our community, particularly as we face the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime. These new professional pathways for designers in the health industry are also forging innovative collaborations that continue to position Maryland as the pioneer and leader in social design and public health education and practice locally, nationally, and internationally.”

Goucher College was awarded $500,000 from MEIF to establish an Endowed Professorship in Integrative Data Analytics. This data science faculty position will support the college’s new Integrative Data Analytics major and lead programming to develop students’ skills that can be applied to data analytics in local, state, and federal governmental agencies, as well as with non-profit organizations and local and global corporations. Goucher students will graduate with the ability to analyze large, robust data sets with an ever-present human and ethical focus, a perspective that Goucher College has a unique ability to provide.

“Goucher College has long been recognized as one of the most innovative colleges in the country, and this E-Nnovation award will allow us to expand our data science initiatives and our new Integrative Data Analytics major,” said Kent Devereaux, Goucher College president. “We want to thank the state and the Maryland Department of Commerce for their recognition of Goucher and our efforts to support student success in the jobs of the future here in the local economy.”

Hood College was awarded $1 million from MEIF to establish the Aramark/Maryland Endowed Chair in Sustainability Studies. This position will include responsibilities for program development, student recruitment, and developing ties to the local and regional community for Hood’s new major in sustainability studies. The faculty member occupying the chair will also initiate research and educational collaborations with appropriate companies, governmental agencies, and other academic institutions in the areas of biofuel development, watershed sustainability, and sustainable food systems.

“We are excited to use this award to establish the Aramark/Maryland Endowed Chair in Sustainability Studies,” said Hood College President Andrea Chapdelaine. “A new faculty member in this position will allow us to fully launch our new Sustainability Studies major and expand and strengthen our community partnerships to help build a healthier and more sustainable Maryland.”

The Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative was created by the General Assembly during the 2014 legislative session and has provided more than $49.3 million in funding to leverage more than $59.6 million in private donations. The funding can be used to pay salaries of newly endowed department chairs, staff, and support personnel in designated scientific and technical fields of study; fund related research fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students; and purchase lab equipment and other basic infrastructure and materials.

About Maryland Commerce

The Maryland Department of Commerce stimulates private investment and creates jobs by attracting new businesses, encouraging the expansion and retention of existing companies, and providing financial assistance to Maryland companies. The Department promotes the State’s many economic advantages and markets local products and services at home and abroad to spur economic development and international investment, trade and tourism. Because they are major economic generators, the Department also supports the arts, film production, sports and other special events. For more information, visit

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