Five faculty members selected for Faculty Distinguished Research Award

As an integral part of the fabric that defines Case Western Reserve, university-based research continues to result in groundbreaking discoveries in everything from law to management to medicine and beyond.

Each year, the university community celebrates the many scholarly pursuits of students, faculty and staff at Research ShowCASE, which will be presented Friday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center. See today’s story about Research ShowCASE to learn more about the event.

That day, the university also will recognize five faculty members whose work has made a prolific impact on society in such fields as imaging and entrepreneurship.

The 2017 awardees of the Faculty Distinguished Research Award are:

  • Fabio Cominelli, the Hermann Menges M.D. Professor of Internal Medicine;
  • Mark Griswold, professor of radiology;
  • Ruth A. Keri, the Arline H. and Curtis F. Garvin MD and Constance C. Frackelton Professor in Cancer Research;
  • Scott Shane, the A. Malachi Mixon III Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and professor of economics; and
  • Ted Steinberg, the Adeline Barry Davee Distinguished Professor of History and professor of law.

The award was first bestowed on faculty members in 2013 to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to their fields of study and contributed to Case Western Reserve’s reputation as an outstanding research institution.

In recognition of those contributions, honorees each receive $10,000 in discretionary funds to further their research.

Fabio Cominelli, the Hermann Menges M.D. Professor of Internal Medicine

Cominelli, an internationally known expert in inflammatory bowel disease, has led and contributed to several multi-million-dollar research studies that have advanced the understanding of digestive-tract diseases.

Photo of Fabio Cominelli

Photo Credit: Dan Milner

His research covers Crohn’s disease, general gastroenterology, inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.

While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, Cominelli’s research has helped provide a clearer picture of the ailment.

With a $6.75 million Program Project Grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in 2011, Cominelli studied the role of innate immunity in inflammatory bowel disease. He and his team discovered that intestinal innate immune system might play a key role in causing the disease.

Currently, Cominelli is leading an interdisciplinary team on Crohn’s disease with a $9.7 million, five-year grant renewal from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. He and his colleagues hope to better understand what causes the disease and, eventually, develop a cure.

Building off Cominelli’s previous work, the goal of this study is to determine why some mice have an innate immune defect that could predispose them to Crohn’s disease.

In recognition of his achievements in medicine, Cominelli is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

Mark Griswold, professor of radiology

Throughout his career, Griswold has established himself as a leader in imaging through breakthroughs in research and innovation in the field.

Photo of Mark Griswold

Photo Credit: Dan Milner

In his nearly 12 years at Case Western Reserve University, Griswold’s research has primarily focused on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), quantitative imaging, magnetic resonance fingerprinting and MRI hardware‌.

Chief among his contributions is his work on magnetic resonance fingerprinting, a technology that could lead to early diagnoses of many diseases by distinguishing their distinct patterns.

His published work on the technology in a March 2013 issue of Nature has been viewed more than 32,000 times.

Collaboration has been a key tenet in Griswold’s career, as he’s partnered with researchers across the university on various projects—from using MRI to advance discoveries in multiple sclerosis to developing a robotically guided heart catheter.

His dedication to cross-disciplinary research has extended to his work as director of Case Western Reserve University’s Interactive Commons, which features the Microsoft Hololens and many other collaborative projects that seek to communicate and visualize information in new ways and address challenges facing society.

For his work in imaging, Griswold has earned numerous accolades, including the School of Medicine’s top honor: Medal for Excellence in Health Science Innovation (2014).

In 2012, he was named a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, an organization composed of top 2 percent of medical and biological engineers.

Griswold also has secondary appointments in biomedical engineering, physics, electrical engineering and computer science.

Ruth A. Keri, the Arline H. and Curtis F. Garvin MD and Constance C. Frackelton Professor in Cancer Research

After initially joining the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology as a research assistant, Keri has continually advanced, holding every position within the department except chair.

Photo of Ruth Keri

Photo Credit: Dan Milner

In addition to her professorship, Keri serves as associate director for basic research at Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and vice chair of the Department of Pharmacology. She also serves on the steering committee for the Gene Expression and Genotyping Core Facility at CWRU.

Throughout her career at the university, she has made strides in breast cancer research.

Keri’s lab focuses on finding new cancer therapies, studying the different paths cancer cells take and then finding ways to disrupt those paths. More specifically, she and her team seek to discover what new combinations of drugs could be more effective than when used individually.

Keri’s lab also investigates the developmental biology of the breast.

And, in 2015, with support from a National Science Foundation grant, Keri used her expertise in conducting diagnostic tests for diseases to team with biomedical engineering’s Nicole Steinmetz to develop a new test that could more accurately detect Ebola.

Keri’s research successes have built on her early studies in determining the basic functions of gene regulation in reproductive biology, with a focus on glycoprotein hormones in the pituitary.

Scott Shane, the A. Malachi Mixon III Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and professor of economics

Shane’s influence on entrepreneurial research is widely recognized in the industry. In fact, in August 2016, the New England Journal of Entrepreneurship ranked him first among research scholars who had the greatest influence on entrepreneurship research from 2000-2015.

Photo of Scott Shane

Photo Credit: Dan Milner

With more than 60 articles and multiple books on entrepreneurship and innovation management, Shane has made lasting contributions to the field.

His books have been well-received, earning such accolades as the Best Business Book Award, Best Small Business Book Award and the Golden Book Award, Taiwan.

While Shane’s research is considered to be broad in scope, he has focused on technology entrepreneurship, new firm formation, economic development and new venture finance.

When Shane was named the 2009 winner of the Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research, his vast contributions to the field were cited, specifically noting his influence on how research in the specialty is conducted, how entrepreneurship is perceived by scholars and what are considered the industry’s key tenets.

More recently, the Burton D. Morgan Foundation recognized Shane’s impact by naming him its inaugural research fellow in 2015. As part of the fellowship, Shane conducted entrepreneurship education experiments to determine the best approach to teach entrepreneurs how to effectively deliver a pitch. Working with local universities, including Case Western Reserve University, he established pitch competitions for students.

Ted Steinberg, the Adeline Barry Davee Distinguished Professor of History and professor of law

For more than 25 years as a U.S. historian, Steinberg’s work has focused on the intersection of environmental, social and legal history. His six books—some of which are described as “provocative”—range in topics from natural disasters to the American desire for the perfect lawn.

Photo of Ted Steinberg

Photo credit: Anthony Gray

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Steinberg turned his focus to his native city in his most recent book, Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

The book explores New York City’s environmental footprint—taking a ground-up approach to the area’s past 400 years.

Steinberg’s other titles are:

  • American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn (W. W. Norton, 2006);
  • Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History (Oxford University Press, 2002; 2nd ed., 2009; 3rd ed., 2013);
  • Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America (Oxford University Press, 2000; 2nd ed., 2006);
  • Slide Mountain or the Folly of Owning Nature (University of California Press, 1995); and
  • Nature Incorporated: Industrialization and the Waters of New England (Cambridge University Press, 1991).

His work has been widely regarded, having earned many accolades and garnered two Pulitzer Prize nominations: in history for Down to Earth and in general non-fiction for Acts of God.

Over the course of his career, Steinberg has lent a voice to numerous television and radio broadcasts and written countless chapters, book reviews and articles.

Steinberg has been at Case Western Reserve University since 1996, where he started as an associate professor of history in law and history. Previously, he taught at New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University–Newark from 1993-96, and the University of Michigan from 1990-93.