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Two IU School of Medicine professors promoted to distinguished rank

Feb. 21, 2013

David Burr, M.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology, and Mervin Yoder, M.D., Richard and Pauline Klingler Professor of Pediatrics, are among the professors recently promoted to the distinguished rank.

The rank of distinguished professor, the most prestigious academic appointment Indiana University can bestow upon its faculty, was created by the IU Board of Trustees in 1967. The title is conferred by the university president with approval of the board.

"A world-class research university begins with a world-class faculty who push the boundaries of knowledge and discovery through path-breaking scholarship and research," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "Indiana University's distinguished professors, including our five newest inductees, are recognized as national and international leaders by their peers and have made outstanding and fundamental contributions in their disciplines that have been widely recognized and applauded."

David Burr

Burr, David

David Burr

David Burr is described by a Fellow of the Royal Society of London as "the world's leading authority on the relationship between bone structure and function and its relation to physiology and disease."

He is widely acclaimed for two broad areas of investigation: the significance of skeletal micro-damage to bone health and metabolism and the adverse effects (fragility and fracture) of current treatments for osteoporosis.

His research was instrumental in the 2011 decision by the FDA to require warning labels on products shown to result in atypical fractures, has redefined what is taught to future scientists about cellular communication in bone, and has alerted physicians to debilitating side effects, changing how therapies are performed.

One letter attested that, "Dave's paradigm has emerged as the scientific consensus," and another wrote that his contributions "have changed the way the scientific community views skeletal health and disease."

His work drives the reputation of IU as a world-class center of excellence in musculoskeletal biology. Burr, who joined the IU School of Medicine faculty in 1990, has attracted more than $16 million in extramural funding during his time at IU and has amassed the "strongest bone research group -- unsurpassed in breadth and depth -- of any institution in the United States." Burr (B.A., '73, Beloit College; M.A., '74, University of Colorado; Ph.D., '77, University of Colorado) is an adjunct professor of anthropology and professor of biomedical engineering at IUPUI.

Mervin C. Yoder

Yoder, Mervin

Mervin C. Yoder

Mervin C. Yoder's research has yielded new insight into the way stem cells are generated, fundamentally changing the way researchers think within the field. A secondary research area led to the discovery of a hierarchy of another type of rare cell, which affected the way researchers think about cell analysis for cardiovascular and other diseases.

He joined the IU School of Medicine as assistant professor of pediatrics in 1985 and is now professor of pediatrics and biochemistry and molecular biology. Yoder is also director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, associate chairman for basic research within the Department of Pediatrics and, since 2011, has served as assistant dean for entrepreneurial research at the school as well as associate director for entrepreneurship at the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

Yoder (B.A., '75, Malone College; M.A., '76, Indiana State University; M.D., '80, IU School of Medicine) has published hundreds of refereed publications, review articles and book chapters, and has mentored postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduate research students. He owns one patent and founded biotechnology firm EndGenitor Technologies Inc.

The distinguished professorship typically recognizes faculty who have pioneered or substantially transformed their field, garnering international recognition for their work. Nominations are made each year by faculty, alumni and students, among others, identifying outstanding scholarship, artistic or literary distinction, or other achievements that have won significant recognition by peers.

Nomination materials are reviewed by the University Distinguished Ranks Committee, whose members forward up to five candidates to the president. Upon review and agreement, the president sends the names to the trustees for official action.

The new distinguished professors will be recognized formally at an event this April -- along with other university teaching award winners yet to be announced -- as part of the festivities marking the anniversary of IU's founding in 1820. McRobbie will preside over the faculty recognition banquet, which includes a reception, musical entertainment and a dinner for honored faculty and their guests.

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