2015 Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen Distinguished Mentor and Scientist Awardee
Jennifer S. Pollock, Ph.D.
Jennifer S. Pollock, Ph.D., is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology, Professor and Co-Director of Cardio-Renal Physiology and Medicine, and Associate Director of the Center for Free Radical Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.She was recruited to UAB in 2014 after working as a Senior Research Scientist at Abbott Laboratories and rising through the ranks from Assistant Professor to Weiss Professor at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.Dr. Pollock received a BS in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Evansville in Evansville, IN, and a MS in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH before obtaining her Ph.D. in the Department of Chemistry, Biological Division at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC under the mentorship of Richard G. Hiskey, Ph.D. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Children’s Hospital in Boston and at Abbott Laboratories where she trained with Nobel Laureate Ferid Murad, MD, PhD. It was Jennifer who first cloned and fully characterized the enzyme endothelial nitric oxide synthase, beginning her career long interest in the field of nitric oxide biology.
Dr. Pollock has a very productive research program which focuses on the regulation of nitric oxide in the kidney and the vasculature, especially as it relates to the pathogenesis of hypertension, diabetes, and the early life origins of cardio-renal dysfunction. The principal objective of her research program is to elucidate the biochemical, physiological, and pathophysiological roles of nitric oxide in mammalian cell function. Studies focus on the transcriptional and translational regulation of the nitric oxide synthases as well as the role of other biochemical pathways in the regulation of the biosynthesis and metabolism of nitric oxide. Her research program is both well-funded and well-recognized; she is a world leader in nitric oxide synthase biology.Dr. Pollock received her first extramural grant as an independent scientist in 1997 from the American Heart Association and has been continually funded ever since. She was named a Fellow of the American Heart Association and the Council for High Blood Pressure Research in 2001 and is a previous recipient of the American Heart Association Established Investigator Award (2004). She is currently the PI on two P01 projects (one of which was based on a previous R01 that has been continuously funded since 1999). In addition, Dr. Pollock has been invited to present her research at national and international conferences and at institutions worldwide and has approximately 180 publications to date in many top scientific journals.
In addition to her excellence in research, Dr. Pollock is an outstanding teacher and mentor.As a testament to her work in the classroom, she has received Outstanding Faculty Awards and Distinguished Teacher awards.Throughout her career, she has mentored approximately 100 students and fellows, as well as several junior faculty members. She is well recognized for her enthusiasm for science and for training the next generation of leaders in academia, medicine, and industry. As many of her former trainees noted, she leads first by example – managing both a successful career and the needs of her family and trainees:
“Her best teaching- in science and otherwise- is her example. While I continue to be highly impressed with Dr. Pollock the scientist, it is Jennifer Pollock the person that I most respect. She has worked hard to earn her professional success, but her commitment to scientific excellence does not overshadow her devotion to her roles as wife, mother, and friend.”
“Dr. Pollock is a woman of many hats (dedicated wife, loving mother, and a powerhouse scientist) which makes her an excellent example/role model for me and all female scientists. She is very motivational, highly-respected and accepts nothing but the best from each student.”
Perhaps the greatest gift that she gives her trainees is her love of her work and her enthusiasm for science that gives them a foundation on which to build their own careers:
“I have observed how she interacts with students and postdoctoral fellows, each of whom inevitably becomes infected with her enthusiasm for science. She serves as a very strong positive role model for her trainees, and they not only respond with enthusiasm but also develop the ability to think independently and “outside of the box.” I think these are essential characteristics for trainees, and Dr. Pollock has successfully endowed each of her trainees in this regard.”
“She would bring out the best in me and never let me settle. She knew there was more to me than I gave myself credit for. How she saw that in me, I don’t know, but I’m glad she did. I accomplished more in my time in her lab than I could have done anywhere else simply because she believed in me.”
Jennifer Pollock is an outstanding mentor and scientist who continues to make a tremendous impact on all of those fortunate enough to call her a mentor and friend. She is an amazing role model and example as a mentor, teacher, scientist, wife and mother.