Maryland Commerce Supports Research Professorships at Three Universities

University of Maryland, College Park; University of Maryland, Baltimore; and Johns Hopkins University raise matching funding to spur research in science, technology

BALTIMORE, MD (September 29, 2016) – The Maryland Department of Commerce; the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and The Johns Hopkins University have endowed a total of $9.5 million in four new research chairs and professorships. The endowments were made through the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative (MEI), a state program created to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields at the colleges and universities. The schools raised $5 million total in private funding and Maryland Commerce approved matching grants of $4.5 million to support the endowments.

“The groundbreaking research these universities are conducting and the bright young minds they are nurturing is helping to fuel Maryland’s economy and keep our state on the cutting edge of technology and discovery,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “We are proud to partner with these world-class institutions and look forward to seeing the fruits of the new professorships and research chairs for years to come.”

The University of Maryland, College Park received $1.1 million from Maryland Commerce for the Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe Chair in computer science and $1 million for the Andrew and Mary Balo and Nicholas and Susan Simon Endowed Chair in the life sciences. A $1.5 million private donor match going toward the Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe Chair will provide support for the research enterprise of an endowed chair in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland. The Iribe Chair is currently held by Samir Khuller, chair of the Department of Computer Science. A fast-growing and evolving field, computational science is one of the university’s and the state’s major economic clusters. The chair holder will work with startup companies, federal agencies or other higher education institutions in the state to explore economic opportunities in computational science.

The additional $1 million private donor match for the Andrew and Mary Balo and Nicholas and Susan Simon Endowed Chair will support the research enterprise of an endowed chair in the life sciences, with a focus on human health and disease in the university’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. The chair will use the funds to pursue discoveries ranging from biotechnology and pharmaceuticals to medical diagnostics and bioinformatics. The chair will also educate, mentor and train students in the biological sciences’ undergraduate and graduate programs, many of whom will likely continue to work in the state upon graduation.

“I am extremely grateful to the state of Maryland and our donors, Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe, Andrew and Mary Balo, and Nicholas and Susan Simon, for their generous gifts,” said Wallace D. Loh, president of the University of Maryland, College Park. “Combined, these gifts will help accelerate the transformation of our campus and our state into a center for exploring solutions for human health and expanding resources for further developing our nationally ranked computer science program.”

The University of Maryland, Baltimore received $1 million from Maryland Commerce for the Robert and Susan Fischell Dean’s Endowed Professorship, which will focus on advancing groundbreaking work in microbial genomics research.  Initially, the professorship will be held by Dr. Claire Fraser, who directs the Institute of Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  Dr. Fraser’s work in microbial genomics has accelerated the development of new vaccines, tracked infectious disease outbreaks in real time, enabled microbial forensics investigations, and fundamentally changed our understanding of microbial life.

“Claire Fraser’s revolutionary work in genomics has profound implications for human health and safety,” said Bruce Jarrell, MD, chief academic and research officer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. “We are indebted to our donors, Robert and Susan Fischell, and to the state for their generosity and their vision: that the groundbreaking research taking place in labs like Dr. Fraser’s must make its way out into our communities—not only to cure disease but to strengthen and grow Maryland’s innovation economy.”

The Johns Hopkins University received $1.375 million from Maryland Commerce for the Mary Jo Rogers Professorship in Cancer Immunology and Melanoma Research. This research focuses on the field of health sciences, in particular the complex research taking place within the melanoma program which also encompasses such areas of study as immunology, the physical sciences, life and neuro sciences, and medical engineering. The initial Mary Jo Rogers professor will be William Howard Sharfman, M.D., associate professor of oncology and dermatology and co- director of the Johns Hopkins Melanoma Program.

“The establishment of this professorship is a strong endorsement for the innovative interdisciplinary research necessary to create novel therapies for melanoma patients. Enabling Dr. Sharfman to translate his promising findings into commercially viable technologies will benefit both our local economy and the lives of patients worldwide,” said Denis Wirtz, vice provost for research at The Johns Hopkins University. “We are grateful for the continued vision and partnership of trustee Brian Rogers, his wife Mary Jo, and the Maryland Department of Commerce in this catalyzing initiative.”

The Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative has provided $12.5 million in funding to leverage $13.7 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 equipment.


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


Karen Glenn Hood
Media Relations and Public Affairs
Maryland Department of Commerce
401 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
O 410-767-6318 | C 443-463-8129

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