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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 1, 2008

Fritzsch named biological sciences head, Iowa Entrepreneurial Endowed Professor

The University of Iowa has named Bernd Fritzsch to an Iowa Entrepreneurial Endowed Professorship and has appointed him chair of the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). Fritzsch is currently professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and director for basic research in the School of Medicine at Creighton University, Omaha. He will begin his UI appointment July 1.

Linda Maxson, CLAS dean, said, "Bernd Fritzsch is an outstanding senior scientist, a gifted leader, and a seasoned administrator who will build on the strengths and prominence of our Department of Biological Sciences. He has been a leader in federally funded Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence Grants, intended to mentor and develop the kind of excellent young scholars we have been so successful in recruiting to our department."

A molecular developmental neurobiologist, Fritzsch is internationally known for his research on the evolution of the sensory neurons of the inner ear, which has provided insights into the genetic basis of hearing loss. His research program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and by a federal Small Business Innovation Research Grant for the development of neuronal tracers.

Fritzsch's appointment as Iowa Entrepreneurial Endowed Professor recognizes the important applications of his research for preventing or curing hearing loss due to loss of innervation. Funds for the endowed professorship are made possible, in part, by a May 2006 appropriation by the Iowa General Assembly that funded a total of $20 million in economic development initiatives at the three regent universities. Of this, $2 million was allocated to the UI to help create endowed professorship and/or entrepreneur-in-residence programs, which allow release time for faculty to develop entrepreneurial plans based on their research.

In awarding the Iowa Entrepreneurial Endowed Professorship to Fritzsch, Meredith Hay, UI vice president for research, said, "We are confident of Bernd Fritzsch's ability to translate discoveries from his laboratory into new therapeutics for those suffering from hearing loss. In addition, he is a leading figure in an interdisciplinary area that is already highly visible on our campus through the Iowa Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center and the work of many researchers in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Carver College of Medicine.  The possibilities his appointment creates for productive collaborative research are truly exciting." 

Bernd Fritzsch received his doctorate in biology from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, in 1978, and was on the faculty at the University of Darmstadt from 1978 to 1989. Following a research fellowship at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography, he joined the faculty of Creighton University in 1991. Fritzsch will succeed Jack Lilien as chair of the UI Department of Biological Sciences.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,