UC Davis dermatologist among scientists honored with Presidential award

Emanual Maverakis invited to special White House ceremony

July 23, 2012

Emanual Maverakis, assistant professor of dermatology at UC Davis School of Medicine, joins a highly select group later this month in a White House ceremony honoring recipients of this year's Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.  

Dr. Maverakis in lab © UC Regents
Dr. Maverakis in lab © UC Regents

Maverakis was among 96 researchers from around the country who were named by President Obama today for the annual honor. The award is intended to recognize and nurture some of the nation's finest scientists and engineers who are beginning their research careers and who show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge.

Maverakis was chosen for what the Presidential citation states are his "studies on the development of new therapeutic avenues for scleroderma," a type of autoimmune disorder. He has been invited to attend the special ceremony for awardees on July 31 in Washington, D.C.

"Dr. Maverakis represents a wonderful combination of caring physician and talented scientist," said Claire Pomeroy, UC Davis vice chancellor for Human Health Science and dean of the School of Medicine. "His gift for leading-edge research complements a drive to translate new discoveries into therapies that will advance patient care and health for all. We are proud of Dr. Maverakis' achievements, which are especially impressive so early in one's career."

Maverakis completed his residency in dermatology at UC Davis in 2007 and joined the faculty that same year. As a physician, he specializes in treating patients with severe immune-mediated diseases involving the skin. As a research scientist, he focuses on the immune system.

Each year, 16 federal departments and agencies join together to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America's preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions. Maverakis was one of 20 scientists nominated for the Presidential early career award by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which last year recognized him with a $2.3 million NIH Director's New Innovator Award for his work on characterizing the pathogenic immune responses that cause autoimmunity.  

"There are so many incredible young scientists in the U.S., I was pleasantly surprised when the president selected me as a recipient of this award," said Maverakis. "It is a great honor and I am very thankful to the National Institutes of Health for nominating me. There is a lot of exciting research being conducted here at UC Davis. I am grateful to my collaborators for allowing me to participate in some of these exceptional endeavors. This award is a testament to all of their support."

The Presidential early career awards were established by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

In a White House press release this morning, the president praised the awardees for their dedication and leadership in the fields of science and engineering.

"Discoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people." President Obama said.  "The impressive accomplishments of today's awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead."

In addition to his Department of Dermatology appointment, Maverakis is a faculty member in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and holds a joint appointment with the VA Northern California Healthcare System. He has a wide variety of research interests, including melanoma, immunotherapy, cutaneous wounds and autoimmunity. He hopes that his laboratory work will soon lead to new therapies for deadly diseases such as scleroderma and melanoma.

Maverakis became interested in immunology as an undergraduate at UCLA, where he earned departmental honors for his work on a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. He continued his research at Harvard Medical School in Boston, where he has the distinction of being one of only 15 students ever to have graduated with highest honors (summa cum laude) since the school's founding in 1782.

In addition to receiving prestigious early career awards from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Maverakis is the first Presidential early career award recipient from the UC Davis School of Medicine. Eight other UC Davis faculty members have received the award in their careers and a total of 14 received its predecessor, the National Science Foundation's Presidential Young Investigator Award. 

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master's degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine at medschool.ucdavis.edu.

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