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2017 Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen Distinguished Mentor and Scientist Awardee
Kurt H. Albertine, Ph.D., FAAA
Dr. Kurt Albertine graduated magna cum laude in biology from Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1975. He graduated with a doctoral degree in human anatomy from Loyola University of Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine, in 1979. He received postdoctoral training in pulmonary and cardiovascular physiology at the Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco (1980-83). Dr. Albertine was Assistant Professor of Anatomy at the University of South Florida, Assistant Professor of Pathology at University of Pennsylvania, and Associate Professor of Medicine and Physiology at Jefferson Medical College before becoming Professor of Pediatrics, Medicine (Adjunct), and Neurobiology & Anatomy (Adjunct) at the University of Utah, School of Medicine in 1993. At the University of Utah, Dr. Albertine led faculty recruitment, retention, promotion, and tenure as Assistant and subsequently as Associate Dean of Faculty Administration for more than a decade. He is Director of Basic and Translational Research for the Division of Neonatology. Dr. Albertine is Editor-in-Chief of The Anatomical Record, the flagship journal of the American Association of Anatomists. Dr. Albertine is just the seventh Editor-in-Chief (2006-2020) in the 111-year history of the Journal (established in 1906). He also is a Fellow of the American Association of Anatomists (FAAA).
Dr. Kurt H. Albertine’s research has been supported continuously by NIH grant awards since 1980. His research at the University of Utah is focused on bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a worldwide public health problem in terms of mortality and long-term morbidity. Despite the magnitude of the pediatric health problem of BPD, its causes are incompletely understood and effective prevention and/or therapy is unavailable. Dr. Albertine’s contributions have been possible in part because of his unique large-animal physiological model: chronically ventilated preterm lambs. This model integrates physiology and mechanism. His lab has taken discoveries to individual cell types in the lung and then to the genes controlling the developmental trajectory of those cell types. The results are leading to a paradigm shift about the molecular basis of BPD. His group’s data suggest that a molecular mechanism is epigenetic, a process by which the abrupt stresses of preterm birth, endotracheal intubation, mechanical ventilation, and all of the other things that happen in a neonatal intensive care setting disrupt regulation of expression of genes in the immature lung. The studies are branched out to include the other organs and processes that are harmed in preterm infants: brain, gut, and kidney, as well as nutrition. As well as providing the investigational basis of Dr. Albertine’s research, his preterm lamb model provides an unparalleled training ground for young scientists. To date, his direct trainees’ number more than 200 developing scientists. Of these developing scientists, the majority are undergraduate students or medical students. As well as scientific and research training success, Dr. Albertine’s activities impact the broader academic success of many. While he was Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at the School of Medicine at the University of Utah, he led the initiative for paid family leave for women and men. He also created the Anatomy Teacher-Scholar Program for the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy. That program transformed teaching faculty in human gross anatomy to scholars in their educational field. Graduates of the program are national leaders today. Dr. Albertine’s contribution to advocacy for science takes two other forms, one as Editor-in-Chief of The Anatomical Record. The other, is leader of national and international workshops on mentoring and career development, scientific writing of manuscripts and grants, and scientific lecturing.