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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 3, 2003

Welsh Gets 2nd Annual Award For Distinguished Mentoring

An event hosted by the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa on Oct. 2 honored Michael J. Welsh, M.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator, and the Roy J. Carver Chair of Biomedical Research in the University of Iowa Departments of Internal Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics, as recipient of the second annual Award for Distinguished Mentoring at the Carver College of Medicine.

The award honors a UI Carver College of Medicine faculty member whose career includes the mentoring of individuals who have moved on to their own notable careers.

Nobel laureate Günter Blobel, M.D., Ph.D., John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Professor at the Rockefeller University, and HHMI Investigator, delivered the second annual Distinguished Mentor's Lecture titled, "Intracellular Protein Traffic."

The Distinguished Mentor's Lecture highlights the Award for Distinguished Mentoring by bringing to the UI Carver College of Medicine an eminent scientist and mentor whose research and training embodies the ideals of the Award for Distinguished Mentoring and its recipient.

The Award for Distinguished Mentoring and Distinguished Mentor's Lecture are the result of the initiative and a generous anonymous gift from an esteemed alumnus.

Three of Welsh's former trainees, Christoph Randak, M.D., Ph.D., UI postdoctoral scholar, Paola Vermeer, Ph.D., UI assistant research scientist, and Christopher Adams, M.D., Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern, also gave presentations.

Jean Robillard M.D., dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine, presented Welsh with the award and paid tribute to Welsh for his drive for excellence, devotion to his trainees, zeal for science and mentoring, as well as his loyalty to and advocacy for the College, his character, and his love of life and family.

Welsh was born and raised in Marshall County, Iowa. He received his medical degree from the UI in 1974. He also completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the UI and subsequently trained in pulmonary medicine and research at the University of California at San Francisco, and in physiology at the University of Texas in Houston. In 1981, he returned to the UI, where he is now a professor of internal medicine and director of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Center. He was appointed an HHMI Investigator and a professor of physiology and biophysics in 1989, and a Roy J. Carver Biomedical Research Chair in 2000.

Welsh's clinical activities focus on pulmonary diseases. His research has concentrated on understanding the biology and pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis (CF) and on the development of new treatments for CF and other genetic diseases including gene therapy. He has also investigated the biology of sodium channels involved in sensory functions such as pain, touch and taste.

Welsh is a recipient of numerous professional awards and has been elected to membership in several leading scientific organizations, including, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.

Günter Blobel, M.D., Ph.D., was born in Waltersdorf, Germany in 1936. He received his medical degree in 1960 from the University of Tübingen and a doctoral degree in oncology in 1967 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He joined the Rockefeller University in 1967 as a postdoctoral fellow and was appointed an assistant professor in 1969, associate professor in 1973, professor in 1976 and John D. Rockefeller Jr. Professor in 1992. He received an HHMI appointment in 1986.

Blobel received his Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1999 for the discovery that proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and localization in the cell.

Blobel has received numerous other prestigious awards for his research including the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 1993. He has been elected to membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also is an associate member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, a member of the American Philosophical Society and an honorary member of the German Society of Cell Biology and of the Japanese Biochemical Society.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5141 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, (319) 335-9917

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: Photos of Michael Welsh and Günter Blobel are available by contacting Jennifer Brown at or at 319-335-9917