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University of Iowa News Release


April 21, 2008

Sheffield renewed as Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator

Val Sheffield, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics who holds the Martin and Ruth Carver Chair in Genetics at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, has been renewed through August 2013 as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Sheffield, who also holds an appointment in ophthalmology and visual sciences and is a pediatrician with UI Children's Hospital, was first appointed as an associate HHMI investigator in 1997 and promoted to full HHMI investigator in 2003.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, based in Maryland, was founded in 1953 by aviator-industrialist Howard Hughes to promote the basic sciences and the effective application of findings to benefit humankind. The institute supports investigators who research cell biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience and structural biology at academic medical centers and universities. HHMI provides salaries, laboratory space and equipment for investigators and their research teams.

Sheffield's research focuses on identifying and understanding genes that cause human diseases. In the past year alone, he has contributed to genetic findings on scoliosis, autism and glaucoma. His research also includes congenital heart defects and hereditary eye diseases, including macular dystrophies and retinitis pigmentosa. He has advanced understanding of a rare genetic disorder called Bardet-Biedl syndrome, which can cause obesity, diabetes and hypertension. The advancement in the understanding of this rare disorder has provided insight into the cause of common obesity and hypertension. He also has been involved in the Human Genome Project and the Rat Genome Project.

"We are delighted that the HHMI continues to value Val Sheffield's research and expertise," said Jean Robillard, M.D., UI vice president for medical affairs. "We are fortunate to have him and three other HHMI investigators at the UI. These appointments play an important role in our ability to conduct leading interdisciplinary research. Like his HHMI colleagues here at the UI, Val is not only a superb researcher but is also a wonderful leader, teacher and mentor."

Sheffield earned his bachelor's degree in zoology from Brigham Young University. He received a doctorate in developmental biology and a medical degree from the University of Chicago. Sheffield completed a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in medical genetics at the University of California, San Francisco. He joined that UI faculty in 1990. Sheffield also is director of the Division of Medical Genetics in the UI Department of Pediatrics. For more information, visit

In addition to Sheffield, current HHMI investigators at the UI include:
Kevin Campbell, Ph.D., professor and head of molecular physiology and biophysics who holds the Roy J. Carver Biomedical Research Chair in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics; Edwin Stone, M.D., Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences who holds the Seamans-Hauser Chair of Molecular Ophthalmology; and Michael Welsh, M.D., professor of molecular physiology and biophysics who holds the Roy J. Carver Chair of Internal Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACTS: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660,