Schmidt-Nielsen Distinguished mentor & Scientist Award
Ormond MacDougald

2016 Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen Distinguished Mentor and Scientist Awardee

Ormond MacDougald, Ph.D.

Dr. Ormond MacDougald is Professor, Departments of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, and Internal Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Dr. MacDougald earned his PhD in 1992 from Michigan State University and completed his postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1992-1996.  Dr. MacDougald joined the University of Michigan School of Medicine in 1996 as an Assistant Professor, and was promoted to Professor in 2006, then named the John A. Faulkner Collegiate Professor of Physiology in 2010.

Dr. MacDougald’s major contributions to science have been in the field of adipocyte physiology and development.  Dr. MacDougald’s breakthrough discovery that lithium was not inhibiting adipogenesis through C/EBPα, but through effects on Wnt signaling was published in Science in 2000.  Additional work from Dr. MacDougald’s laboratory has demonstrated that Wnt10b is an important endogenous Wnt for adipogenesis, plays a role in muscle regeneration, and is a key regulator of osteoblast development and activity. In a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, he extended the functional roles of Wnts from development to regulators of adipocyte metabolism, and showed that Wnts regulate metabolic adaptation to over-nutrition and obesity.  Dr. MacDougald’s most recent work published in Cell Metabolism and Nature Communications has focused on the development and regulation of marrow adipose tissue, and the role of marrow fat in contributing to circulating adiponectin in cases of anorexia or calorie restriction.  Dr. MacDougald’s research achievements have been recognized with the APS Henry Pickering Bowditch Award, election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fulbright Fellowship (2013-2014), and many prestigious national and international invited lectureships, including the 134th Nobel Symposium in Göteborg, Sweden.  Dr. MacDougald has also been successful in securing continuous funding since 1996 from multiple granting agencies and foundations including the NIH, and the American Diabetes Association; he is currently PI on two R01s and one R24, and director or co-director on an R25 and P30 grant from the NIH.

Not only is Dr. MacDougald an exceptionally accomplished scientist, he is also an outstanding mentor to trainees in both his laboratory and the greater scientific community. Dr. MacDougald views mentoring of trainees of equal or greater importance to running a successful research program.  As attested to in his support letters, Dr. MacDougald spends considerable time and effort training and mentoring undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Dr. MacDougald’s excellence as a mentor and teacher has been recognized by his receiving the University of Michigan Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award in 2011, being included in the inaugural class of the League of Excellence in Education at the University of Michigan Medical School in 2013, and being appointed to the prestigious University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School MORE (Mentoring Others Results in Excellence) Committee.  Dr. MacDougald’s trainees have obtained national and international awards and fellowships while in his laboratory, and have gone on to be successful in varying careers from academia and clinical practice, to industry.  The trainees who have Dr. MacDougald as a mentor, have a mentor for life, regularly seeking his advice long after leaving his laboratory.

Dr. MacDougald has played an extremely active role in graduate student training at the University of Michigan, one that goes well beyond the training of students in his own lab. He has either served on or directed the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology graduate committee for 12 of the 19 years he has been at Michigan. He has also served on the governing program committee and other committees for the Cellular and Molecular Biology program. In these capacities, Dr. MacDougald provided advice on all aspects of a graduate student’s career to students in those programs – including which program to join, how to find a mentor, how to deal with mentor-mentee conflicts, how to choose a laboratory for a postdoctoral fellowship, how to go about looking for academic or alternative careers, and whether to leave science. He not only provides direct mentoring in these areas, but he also facilitates others to provide this kind of mentoring to students. Dedicated to training women and minority scientists, he imbues them with the confidence that they can succeed, and finds appropriate mentors so they do not feel isolated.  Dr. MacDougald also established a graduate education endowment that now contains over $700K for the development of future generations of biomedical researchers.