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2019 A. Clifford Barger Underrepresented Minority Mentorship  Awardee

Michael J. Ryan, PhD

Michael J. Ryan, PhD is Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, Director of Graduate Studies in Physiology and Biophysics, and Associate Dean for Student Affairs in the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). Dr. Ryan received his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics with distinction from the University of Buffalo in 1999 and postdoctoral training at the University of Iowa College of Medicine (1999-2005). Dr. Ryan was appointed as Assistant Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at UMMC in 2004 and rapidly rose through the academic ranks to become full Professor and Associate Dean for Student Affairs as well as several other important administrative positions at UMMC. Many of these administrative positions at UMMC take advantage of Dr. Ryan’s talents and passion for education - Director, UMMC School of Graduate Studies Discovery U Programs; Director, UMMC Master of Biomedical Sciences Program; Director, Mississippi Diversity in Hypertension and Cardiorenal Researchers Program; Director, Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program.

Dr. Ryan has excelled in all phases of his professional career including teaching, research, service and leadership in several professional organizations and in championing the careers of women and minorities in physiology. His research on mechanisms of hypertension in autoimmune disease has been seminal to this field and to women’s health. Dr. Ryan has also made major contributions to understanding the pathophysiology of preeclampsia. Dr. Ryan’s outstanding scientific productivity is documented by the large number of high quality, peer-reviewed papers that he has published. His research has been consistently funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and he has received several awards and honors for his research including the Water and Electrolyte Homeostasis New Investigator Award of the American Physiological Society, the American Society of Hypertension Young Scholars Award, and the UMMC Excellence in Research Award.

Dr. Ryan is an outstanding educator and mentor. He received the “All Star Faculty Award” and was elected to the Norman C. Nelson Order of Teaching Excellence at UMMC. He excels in teaching at least 6 courses, including several advanced physiology courses and interdisciplinary courses at UMMC. His work with students clearly embodies the ideals of Dr. Barger and is a major reason that so many graduate students want to work in Dr. Ryan’s laboratory and train with him. Despite his extensive responsibilities for teaching and mentoring graduate students, Dr. Ryan has devoted a large amount of time to advancing the School of Graduate Studies and the School of Medicine Curriculum at UMMC. He advises approximately 65 students each year, of which 27% are under-represented minority (URM) students and 55% are women. Dr. Ryan has also played a major role in educating and mentoring many undergraduate students in Mississippi, leading programs that provide summer research experiences for K-12 students, undergraduate students and the SURE program at UMMC. Each year, he organizes two outreach events at the local children’s museum, including PhUN Week, and has developed a program for high school students to participate in biomedical research laboratories. Dr. Ryan also directs the Mentoring Academy for faculty at the Mississippi Center for Clinical and Translational Research at UMMC. Thus, Dr. Ryan’s teaching and mentoring activities range from K-12 to undergraduate college students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty.

Importantly, Dr. Ryan has used his multiple leadership roles to promote opportunities for women and minorities in research at all levels, and has been highly successful at increasing the total number of URM who participate in research programs. He has personally trained many undergraduate, graduate and medical student researchers and his mentorship has been especially important in supporting women and minorities in their careers. Approximately 75% of his trainees are women and he has trained many high school and undergraduate students who are minorities. His trainees routinely receive awards for their research and have successfully obtained faculty positions at academic institutions.

Dr. Ryan’s service at the national level has also been exceptional. He has been a member of the Porter Physiology Development Committee of the American Physiological Society (APS) which is especially notable since Dr. Barger played a major role in guiding this committee for many years and obtaining funds to support the career development of women and minorities. Dr. Ryan mentors women and minorities through the APS via the Minority Travel Fellowships Program and the Water and Electrolyte Section “Mentoring on the Go” Program. He was also a facilitator at the Minority Networking Breakfast at the Experimental Biology Meetings. Dr. Ryan has served on various NIH Grant Review Committees for funding mechanisms that directly support minorities, including R03 and R25 grant review committees.

Dr. Ryan served as President, Gulf Coast Physiological Society and was elected Chair of the Water and Electrolyte Homeostasis Section of the American Physiological Society. He has served in leadership positions for several professional organizations including the American Heart Association (AHA) and the APS, as well as on multiple review panels of the AHA, NIH and other funding agencies. Dr. Ryan also serves on the editorial boards of several journals including Hypertension, American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Journal of Hypertension, Frontiers in Vascular Physiology, Frontiers in Vascular Physiology, and as Associate Editor of Clinical Science.

Dr. Ryan’s exceptional service at the national, state and local levels clearly demonstrates his extraordinary commitment to promoting the success of women and minorities in science. He is a remarkable role model for young scientists, as was Dr. Barger who would be pleased that Dr. Michael Ryan was selected for this high honor.