Clifford Harding, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, is a world-class immunologist and major force in physician-scientist and professional-scientist education. His research focuses on the immunology of infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis and HIV.
As chair of the Department of Pathology, which provides insight into disease processes that lead to new diagnostics and therapies, he oversees the research and clinical activities of more than 100 faculty and hundreds of staff members with expertise straddling several medical disciplines, including cancer, immunology, neuropathology, and basic and translational research.
Distinguished University Professor is a permanent title to honor exceptional faculty members for their contributions to research, scholarship, teaching and service.
“This recognition is a great honor and is deeply meaningful to me,” Harding said. “In over 25 years as a Case Western Reserve faculty member, I have enjoyed the benefits of a fertile and collegial academic community. My collaborators and trainees have been a special joy and have been critical to developing both research and training programs.”
He built his department into the 10th-best funded nationally, according to National Institutes of Health data, and leads the MD/PhD-granting Case Western Reserve’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), a flagship of the medical school and one of the largest such programs in the country. MSTP prepares students for careers combining academic medicine and biomedical research.
Additionally, he founded the university’s Clinical and Translational Scientist Training Program, which provides comprehensive training for physicians, nurses and dentists focusing on clinical and translational research.
“Cliff Harding is the prototype of the Distinguished University professor,” said Pamela B. Davis, dean of the School of Medicine and senior vice president for medical affairs at Case Western Reserve. “He presents impeccable research credentials that have been widely recognized in the scientific community. Just as important, he has long been a major force in the outstanding education programs we offer.”
Harding was recruited to Case Western Reserve in 1993, following MD/PhD training, pathology residency, and a period on faculty at Washington University in St. Louis. In graduate school, he published a breakthrough manuscript that provided the first description of exosomes, which are small vesicles that promote a range of important cellular functions and are a universal feature in biology.
On the 30th anniversary of the discovery of exosomes, he was invited to author a retrospective in the Journal of Cell Biology on their importance. Later, he published seminal studies in immunology in the areas of antigen processing and major histocompatibility complex function or MHC, which refers to a group of genes that code for proteins on the surfaces of cells that help the immune system recognize foreign substances.
He has garnered more than $50 million in grant funding for CWRU, and recruited over 70 clinical and scientific faculty members. Additionally, he has contributed to advancing diversity, increasing the recruitment of underrepresented minority and LGBT faculty members in the Department of Pathology and advancing women into leadership roles. In 2008 he was awarded the Women Faculty of the School of Medicine’s Gender Equity Award.