UNT System honors scientist who conducts drug studies

By Jan Jarvis

Prof Web
 
One drug treats hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia. Another treats complicated intra-abdominal infections. And a third treats skin infections.

These are among the many drugs that Jerry Simecka, PhD, has evaluated as part of the discovery process since establishing the Pre-Clinical Services group at UNT Health Science Center a decade ago.

The successful program, which conducts industry sponsored research studies, is a professional accomplishment in which Dr. Simecka takes great pride.

“Because of the work that Pre-Clinical Services has done, there are now several drugs used to treat patients in the clinics,” he said. “There are several others that are in the pipeline that we anticipate will be approved by the FDA.”

In recognition of Dr. Simecka’s dedication to research and education, the UNT System Board of Regents’ has named him a Regent’s Professor, one the highest professional honors given.

Dr. Simecka came to UNT Health Science Center in 1995 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. For seven years, he served as Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Immunology. He established the Pre-Clinical Services group in 2008, a program that is recognized for its work in evaluating new antimicrobials during the discovery and development phase.

Guiding a drug through the discovery process, from protocol design to implementation, has been very rewarding. But Dr. Simecka said he has also taken great satisfaction in teaching students and making a positive impact on people’s careers.

“I also like developing new approaches or identifying opportunities that promote the mission of the schools that I am working with,” he said.

Dr. Simecka has established an outstanding track record of excellence in service, leadership, research, and teaching, said Kyle Emmitte, PhD, Chair and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“He has taught students in four of the schools on campus and has graduated more than 20 MS and/or PhD students to whom he served as major advisor,” he said.

Under Dr. Simecka’ s leadership, Preclinical Services has established an international reputation for excellence and garnered more than $18.5 million in extramural funding since 2008, Dr. Emmitte said.

Dr. Simecka was the 2007 recipient of the Benjamin L. Cohen, DO, Award for Outstanding Research Achievement, the 2007 Academic Commendation of Excellence, and the 2012 President’s Award for Research Excellence. He has also served his field as Chair of Division G of the American Society for Microbiology and Chair of the Educational Committee of the Association of Medical School Microbiology and Immunology.

“Dr. Simecka is an outstanding colleague and accomplished academician who is worthy of the title Regent’s Professor,” Dr. Emmitte said.

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