A dedication to research and education

By Jan Jarvis

Two professors – one focused on finding a cure for glaucoma and the other working to provide a better understanding of how the brain regulates physiological processes – have been named recipients of one of UNT Health Science Center’s highest professional honors.

Abe Clark, PhD, Executive Director, North Texas Eye Research Institute and Tom Cunningham, PhD, Professor, Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, have been named UNTHSC Regents Professors.

“Drs. Clark and Cunningham are remarkable faculty members deserving of the title of Regents Professor,” said Thomas Yorio, former Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Not only are they outstanding teachers and mentors, they are also national and internationally recognized scientists in their respective fields.”

The Regents Professors were recognized for their dedication to research and education.

Dr. Clark is an innovative researcher focused on understanding the biochemical, cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the pathobiology of glaucoma and other ocular diseases. He collaborates with laboratories throughout the U.S., as well as internationally.

After spending 23 years at Alcon Laboratories, Dr. Clark returned to a career in academia when he joined the UNTHSC faculty.

“The most rewarding experience I have had since joining UNTHSC has been teaching and mentoring a terrific group of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty,” he said. “I am so excited to see them develop into future leaders in academic and industrial research.”

He said he is most proud of building and developing the North Texas Eye Research Institute into a well- recognized center for vision research excellence.

Dr. Cunningham joined UNTHSC to help grow the Department of Integrative Physiology. His research focuses on determining how the brain participates in the normal regulation of blood pressure and fluid balance, a process called homeostasis.

Professionally, Dr. Cunningham said he is most proud of getting a National Institutes of Health program project grant with Steve Mifflin, PhD renewed ($9 million over five years), and getting a perfect “10” score on his grant about vasopressin and body fluid balance.

“I’m very humbled and grateful for my contributions to the UNT Health Science Center to be recognized this way,” Dr. Cunningham said.

Dr. Clark and Dr. Cunningham are the sixth and seventh Regents Professor at UNTHSC in its 45-year history. The UNT System Board of Regents has named fewer than four dozen in the past 27 years, in a system that serves 45,000 students on three campuses.

Other Regents Professors at UNTHSC include:

  • Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, PhD, Professor, Institute for Molecular Medicine and Special Assistant to the Provost for Minority Affairs
  • Michael Forster, PhD, Executive Director, Center for Neuroscience Discovery
  • Robert Mallet, PhD, Professor, Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease.

In addition, Fred Downey, PhD, is Emeritus Regents Professor. He served as Vice Chair, Department of Integrative Physiology. The late Dr. Ben Harris also was a Regents Professor.

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