APS names UC Davis professor 'Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen Distinguished Mentor and Scientist'

BETHESDA, Md (Dec. 4, 2006) -- Barbara A. Horwitz, distinguished professor of physiology and vice provost at the University of California, Davis, has been selected the 2007 recipient of the Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen Distinguished Mentor and Scientist Award. The Women in Physiology Committee of the American Physiological Society (APS) chose Horwitz based on her mentoring excellence and outstanding contributions to physiological research.

The award is named in honor of Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen, the first woman president of the Society and a distinguished physiologist who has made significant contributions in her field. The award honors an APS member who has made outstanding contributions to physiological research and demonstrated dedication and commitment to excellence in training of young physiologists by:

  • mentoring, guiding and nurturing their professional and personal development
  • developing novel education methods and materials
  • promoting scientific outreach efforts
  • attracting individuals to the field of physiology
  • fostering an environment exceptionally conducive to education in physiology

Horwitz received her doctorate from Emory University in Atlanta and did her postdoctoral training at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Davis. She was appointed assistant research physiologist at Davis and rose through the academic ranks to become professor of physiology in 1978. She was named distinguished professor in 2003.

From 1991-1998 Horwitz was chair of UC, Davis’ Department of Animal Physiology, later named the Section of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. In 2001, she became the vice provost for academic personnel, a position she still holds. Horwitz has received a National Institutes of Health Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1988.

Horwitz has a successful research program, contributing significantly to fundamental research in the field of genetic, neural, and hormonal regulation of energy balance. Her current research is focused on the:

  • underlying mechanisms associated with altered gene expression and brain regulation of energy balance in genetic and diet-induced animal models of obesity
  • cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying sympathetic (adrenergic) stimulation of energy expenditure
  • role of mitochondrial uncoupling proteins in energy balance and oxidative stress
  • physiological basis of altered metabolism during various stages of aging

Instilling her students with fascination of science, passion for physiology, and a strong scientific ethic are the hallmarks of Horowitz’s teaching career. She not only continues to mentor her students long after graduation but also acts as a mentor to physiology and nutrition undergraduate and graduate students, as well as students in the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity Program, sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. She is a mentor of junior scientists, whether they are students just starting out, assistant professors establishing their laboratories, or full professors in need of advice and guidance from a colleague.

Horwitz has received two national grants to develop instructional materials for undergraduate physiology courses and is a principal investigator on an NIH-funded mentoring program aimed at increasing the number of under-represented minorities in biomedical research.

Her teaching and mentoring excellence has been recognized with numerous awards, including the:

  • APS Arthur C. Guyton Physiology Teacher of the Year Award
  • University of California Presidential Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research
  • University of California, Davis Prize for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement
  • University of California, Davis Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award

Horwitz will give a talk at 12 p.m., Monday, April 30 at the 2007 Experimental Biology meeting in Washington, DC. She will also meet with APS members and young scientists during the meeting. Her award includes a $1,000 grant and a commemorative plaque.

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Editor’s note: For more information, please contact Christine Guilfoy, American Physiological Society.

The American Physiological Society was founded in 1887 to foster basic and applied bioscience. The Bethesda, Maryland-based society has 10,500 members and publishes 14 peer-reviewed journals containing almost 4,000 articles annually.

APS provides a wide range of research, educational and career support and programming to further the contributions of physiology to understanding the mechanisms of diseased and healthy states. In 2004, APS received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.


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