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Scientist honored with university award

GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Dec. 16, 2003)   —   A professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Brody School of Medicine has received East Carolina University's highest research honor.

Dr. S. Jamal Mustafa is the 2003 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity. He has also been named distinguished research professor of pharmacology and toxicology.

He presented a public seminar on his research Dec. 3 as part of the events to recognize him and his years of research activity. Dr. Paul Gemperline, interim associate chancellor in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies, presented Mustafa with his recognition at the event.

This award is not Mustafa's first. He also received the first Award for Excellence in Basic Research from the Brody School of Medicine in 1997, the Helms Research Award from the ECU chapter of Sigma XI in 1995 and the Mario Toppo Distinguished Scientist Award in 2000 from the Association of Scientists of Indian Origin in America.

A faculty member since 1980, Mustafa's research has focused primarily on adenosine, a chemical messenger known to influence the airways of people with asthma, and its role in regulating blood flow to the heart. The body releases adenosine to increase blood flow by opening blood vessels after injury.

Mustafa was the first to show a specific type of adenosine binding site is on the surface of airways that causes asthma-like symptoms in animals. This discovery has led several drug companies to pursue the development of more selective drugs with fewer side effects for the treatment of asthma.

His current research focuses on gene-modified mice to address the role of adenosine in the heart and lungs. This research could lead to better drugs for some diseases of the lungs and heart, Mustafa said.

Since joining ECU, Mustafa has brought in an estimated $7 million from the National Institutes of Health and another $1.5 million from drug companies to support his laboratory work.

Dr. David Taylor, chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, nominated Mustafa for the award.

"He has maintained an active and funded laboratory since his arrival at ECU in 1980. He has had over 23 years of continuous funding and has trained a large number of research and graduate students," Taylor said. "He has made strides in our understanding of adenosine as a regulator of smooth muscle function."

Mustafa's interest in adenosine developed during his post-doctoral research at the University of Virginia with Dr. Robert Berne. "For him to continue his interest in adenosine for this long is an incredible accomplishment," Taylor said.

Mustafa said he was very honored to be recognized by the university.

"I'm quite pleased, and it represents a lot of work," he said. "I am thankful to ECU and my colleagues at the medical school for this award. It's a great honor, and I hope I continue to be as productive in coming years."


Contact: Jeannine Manning Hutson | 252-744-2481