A new dean for Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
By Jan Jarvis
Michael Mathis, PhD, sees plenty of similarities between his current job at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and his future one as dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UNT Health Science Center.
“A medical school and a vet school are really very similar,” he said. “They both have clinical departments, basic sciences that support biomedical research and teaching, as well as graduate and professional students.”
Prior to his position as Department Head at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Mathis was Director of the Gene Therapy Program and the Small Animal Imaging Facility for 10 years at LSU Health Science Center at Shreveport. There he honed his administrative skills by building collaborative research opportunities across disciplines in translational research.
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Dr. Mathis expects to put to work the skills he garnered from his years at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine in Baton Rouge when he joins UNTHSC in February. He brings with him a diverse background that extends beyond the veterinary school to include research in gynecologic cancer and management in higher education.
“I’ve had a multitude of different experiences, including biomedical research, graduate and professional teaching, core facility management and department and center administration,” he said, “I think this gives me a much better breadth of understanding of higher education than by following a single career track.”
Dr. Mathis brings awealth of knowledge and expertise to the Health Science Center, said Charles Taylor, PharmD, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.
“He has an extensive background in graduate education and his core values are in alignment with those of UNTHSC,” Dr. Taylor said. “He will be a great addition to our leadership team, and I look forward to working with him to position GSBS as one of the leading programs in the country.”
A native Texan, Dr. Mathis planned to be a chemical engineer. But his plans changed while he was an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University, where he experienced how biomedical research could yield exciting discoveries.
Dr. Mathis went on to do his graduate research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where he studied the effects of carcinogens found in tobacco smoke on fetal development.
In 1988, he earned a PhD in biochemistry and continued his training as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California in San Diego, where he studied tissue-specific and hormonal regulation of gene expression.
In 2011, Dr. Mathis completed a master’s degree in health administration from LSU in Shreveport and a doctorate of education in higher education administration in 2017 from the University of Alabama. His dissertation research at Alabama focuses on the experiences of early-career faculty in their pursuit of extramural funding for academic research.
As Professor and Chair of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Mathis performed translational research in cancer therapeutics and grew his department to 24 full-time faculty members across diverse research areas including anatomy, cancer biology, cardiovascular disease, cellular and development biology, neurosciences and toxicology.
When he visited UNTHSC, he was immediately impressed by the campus-wide commitment to the core values.
“They really resonated with me,” he said. “The elements represented by the core values have guided me throughout my career.”