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Celia Schiffer named 2020 ELAM Leadership for Women in Medicine Fellow

UMass Medical School biomedical research scientist Celia Schiffer, PhD, has been selected as a fellow of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program at Drexel University College of Medicine. Now in its 26th year, ELAM is the country’s only in-depth fellowship dedicated to preparing senior women faculty at schools of medicine, dentistry, public health and pharmacy to lead and manage in today's complex health care environment, with special attention to the unique challenges facing women in leadership positions.

“Participating in the program will help strengthen many of my leadership, communications and negotiations skills,” said Dr. Schiffer, the Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Oncology, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and founder and director of the Institute for Drug Resistance. “I've always had ideas about how to solve problems that reach beyond goals of my own research program and while some have succeeded, others haven't quite reached the potential I'd envisioned. I am seeking to amplify my voice and to engage the necessary resources to realize my scientific vision through communication with both my peers and higher administration.”

During the year-long, part-time fellowship, Schiffer will complete the curriculum addressing four fundamental competencies: strategic finance and resource management; personal and professional leadership effectiveness; organizational effectiveness; and communities of leadership practice.

The program culminates with each fellow completing an institutional action project designed for and supported by the fellow’s leadership to address emerging issues in their schools, universities and society at large. Schiffer is consulting with Executive Deputy Chancellor and Provost Terence R. Flotte and other UMMS research and education leaders to formalize her initiative to increase the visibility of the Institute for Drug Resistance.

“Our research enterprise is really outstanding, a hidden gem that I think I can have a role in unfolding more connections to increase the visibility of research,” said Schiffer. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, where I and many faculty have pivoted to working extensively on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, avoiding drug resistance becomes even more relevant as we target this quickly evolving pandemic.”

Schiffer is a sought-after mentor who leads a diverse group of Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences students and postdocs. Primarily studying the molecular basis for drug resistance in viruses, the Schiffer lab has developed a new paradigm for avoiding drug resistance that likely translates to many diseases. Her lab is in collaborations with other UMMS investigators, applying the discoveries, strategies and techniques she has pioneered to help develop treatments for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that has engendered a pandemic.

Invested as an endowed professor in 2019 and receiving the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s William C. Rose Award in 2021 (delayed due to COVID-19), Schiffer was previously recognized as the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research Educator of the Year and the inaugural recipient of the UMMS Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring in 2016. In 2015, Schiffer was made a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. She founded the UMMS Institute for Drug Resistance in 2009.

Schiffer joins 14 current and former UMass Medical School faculty members who are among more than 1,000 ELAM alumnae holding leadership positions in institutions around the world. Among them are Tiffany Moore Simas, MD, newly appointed chair and professor of obstetrics and gynecology, who succeeds retiring ELUM Julia Johnson, MD.

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Celia Schiffer honored with William C. Rose Award from American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Celia Schiffer honored for mentoring in STEM