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2018 A. Clifford Barger Underrepresented Minority Mentorship  Awardee

Patricia E. Molina, MD, PhD

Patricia E. Molina, MD, PhD is the Richard Ashman, PhD Professor and Department Head of Physiology and Director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center of Excellence (ADACE) at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) in New Orleans. Dr. Molina completed her MD training at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala. Thereafter, she completed her PhD in Physiology at LSUHSC (1987-1990) and her postdoctoral experience at Vanderbilt University (1990-1992). She progressed through the academic ranks, initially as an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Physiology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (1992-1996) and subsequently as Director of Surgical Research at North Shore University Hospital in New York (1996-1999). She held a guest scientist appointment at Brookhaven National Laboratory prior to joining the Department of Physiology at LSUHSC as an Associate Professor in 1999. Dr. Molina obtained tenure and promotion to the rank of Professor at LSUHSC in 2004 and in 2008 she was named Richard Ashman, PhD Professor and appointed Department Head of Physiology.

Dr. Molina has made outstanding contributions in research, leadership, teaching, and mentorship. She has excelled in her research on the impact of alcohol on HIV/AIDS and traumatic injury. Her research has been funded continuously since completing her PhD. Currently, her research is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH,) and she is Principal Investigator on grants totaling more than two million dollars per year. She is the Director (and previous Co-Director) of the NIH-funded T32 Biomedical Alcohol Research Training Program at LSUHSC, which supports the training of MD and PhD pre- and postdoctoral fellows. During her time as Co-Director of the training grant, Dr. Molina worked to increase general recruitment and has been successful in recruiting a diverse group of trainees, including Hispanic, African American, females, and individuals from other underrepresented backgrounds. As Director, she has continued this recruiting initiative and continually stimulates the support and development of underrepresented minorities in the field. Dr. Molina also serves as Director of the NIH-funded P60 Comprehensive Alcohol-HIV/AIDS Research Center (CARC) at LSUHSC. Prior to becoming Director, she served as the Director of the Education and Outreach Component of the CARC for 15 years. She has been a member of the faculty of the School of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Education Committee in Physiology, Graduate Advisory Council, and is a mentor for the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program. She has served as Vice Chair of the Multicultural and Diversity Committee of the School of Medicine for over 10 years.

Dr. Molina is a remarkable example of leadership at LSUHSC. As Distinguished Professor and Department Head, Dr. Molina developed a three-phase plan requiring self-evaluation/reorganization, growth, and excellence, to recover the department following Hurricane Katrina. One of her main initiatives has been to help junior faculty secure funds from major funding agencies. Also notable is her creativity and willingness to develop new courses for graduate and medical students to help prepare them for their careers. She developed a Medical Spanish Elective for students in all health care professions in order for them to develop skills needed to work with Spanish-speaking patients. She also implemented Journal Club for graduate students, weekly seminars given by intramural and visiting distinguished researchers, videoconferences, and work-in-progress meetings to enhance the research and collaborative environment. Dr. Molina has also held many leadership roles in professional organizations outside of LSUHSC. In the American Physiological Society (APS) alone, she has served as Chair of the Porter Physiology Development Committee and the International Committee, and Councilor of the Society and of the Endocrinology and Metabolism Section, as well as 88th President of the Society. In 2015, she was named Fellow of the APS. Since 2010, Dr. Molina has served as Chair of the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse (NHSN), an organization with a mission to develop the next generation of Hispanic researchers on drug abuse and comorbid conditions, within which she also mentors numerous trainees from the Latino community. Most recently, she was nominated to serve as Treasurer of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) and President of the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology (ACDP).

Dr. Molina has a strong commitment to education and student development and actively participates in Physiology courses at LSUHSC. In 2016, Dr. Molina was awarded the Aesculapian Excellence in Teaching Award from the School of Medicine at LSUHSC. This is a prestigious award honoring excellence in teaching at the institution and Dr. Molina has strived for this award. Her exceptional instruction of Endocrine Physiology, a subject in which she authored her own book, has distinguished her from other medical school faculty. She has also contributed to the Physiology teaching responsibilities in the graduate school, dental school, nursing school, allied health program.

Dr. Molina’s strongest suit is arguably mentoring. She has directly mentored more than 40 high school, undergraduate, graduate and medical students, postdoctoral and post-residency fellows, and residents. Of these, over half are women or underrepresented minorities. In addition, Dr. Molina has mentored successful graduate and medical students, clinical and postdoctoral fellows, and early career investigators, supported by various mechanisms including APS Porter Fellowships and NIH F30, F31, F32, K01, K99/R00, and T32 grants. She also tirelessly supports the development of junior faculty. Dr. Molina’s distinction in mentorship was recognized by the Excellence in Mentorship Award from the NHSN in 2012.

Dr. Molina has excelled as a researcher, leader, educator, and mentor. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated excellence as an academic scientist, evidenced by her progression to Department Head, extensive extramural research funding, and publication record including nearly 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, a Lange monographic series (Endocrine Physiology), and over 20 book chapters. Dr. Molina’s dedication to research, leadership, teaching, and mentorship epitomizes the Clifford A. Barger Award’s essence.