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Endowed gift expands neuroscience program in The College of Arts and Sciences

September 27, 2011

Judy Holmes
(315) 443-8085

Beverly Petterson Bishop ’44 and Charles Bishop ’42, G’44 graduated from Syracuse University in 1944, she with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, he a master’s degree in chemistry. They went on to earn doctoral degrees and led successful careers in teaching and research, primarily at the University at Buffalo.

Beverly Petterson Bishop, a nationally recognized neuroscientist, was named Distinguished Teaching Professor at SUNY Buffalo in 1992. She continued to teach until a week before her death in 2008 at the age of 86. She never missed a single class.

To honor his wife’s legacy, Charles Bishop established the Beverly Petterson Bishop Professorship in Neuroscience. The College of Arts and Sciences appointed Sandra J. Hewett as the inaugural Bishop Professor in the Department of Biology.

hewettHewett’s appointment will be celebrated Wednesday, Oct. 12, with an induction ceremony at 11:30 a.m. in the Life Sciences Complex Lundgren Room (106), followed by a presentation by Hewett, titled “Maladaptive Inflammation in Acute Neuronal Injury.” The event is free and open to the University community.

Hewett came to SU from the University of Connecticut Health Center, where—in addition to running an internationally recognized research program—she was deeply involved with the university’s neuroscience graduate program as a member of its graduate faculty, as program director and as vice chair of the Graduate Programs Committee.

“Dr. Hewett is a world-class neuroscientist whose work underscores the innovative spirit of the Bishop Professorship,” says Dean George M. Langford. “I’m confident she will honor Beverly’s legacy through cutting-edge teaching and research.”

Hewett is charged with shepherding a joint Ph.D. program in neuroscience with Upstate Medical University. A 2010 memorandum of understanding paved the way for joint faculty appointments and graduate research opportunities at both institutions.

“I am honored to hold a professorship that bears the name of Beverly Petterson Bishop,” Hewett says. “I look forward to working with faculty to build a strong and vibrant neuroscience program at SU, which draws upon existing faculty strength as well as includes new faculty at both the undergraduate (integrated learning major in neuroscience) and graduate levels.”

During her career, Beverly Petterson Bishop published dozens of articles on the neural regulation of motor activities. She taught neurophysiology to physical therapy students and challenged physical therapists to investigate the scientific basis of their interventions. She wrote monographs and book chapters that became seminal in the field, and produced a series of groundbreaking articles on how undamaged neurons (brain cells), when stimulated through activity, form new neurological pathways to compensate for those damaged or destroyed.

Likewise, Hewett’s research focuses on brain injury and is funded by more than $2.5 million from the National Institutes of Health. She studies the molecular and biochemical processes that occur after a brain injury and the role of astrocytes in the inflammatory response to brain injury. Astrocytes are star-shaped cells that play a significant role in neuronal signaling. It’s an area of research that has not been widely studied, and one in which Hewett has made a significant impact. She has been honored with the Donaghue Investigator Award from the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation, the American Heart Association’s Established Investigator Award and the American Society for Neurochemistry’s Jordi Folch Pi Memorial Award, among others. Hewett holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from Michigan State University.

The Bishop gift is counted in The Campaign for Syracuse University total and is bolstered through SU’s Faculty Today, a gift challenge program created to encourage donors to endow faculty chairs and professorships. Designed to accelerate the University’s ability to recruit and retain world-class faculty, Faculty Today will supplement the Bishop Professorship for the first five years. The Faculty Today program was developed by the SU Board of Trustees, which allocated $30 million from the University’s endowment to support the initiative. To learn more about Faculty Today and view a progress report, visit http://facultytoday.syr.edu.

With a goal of $1 billion, The Campaign for Syracuse University is the most ambitious fundraising effort in SU’s history. By supporting faculty excellence, student access, interdisciplinary programs, capital projects and other institutional priorities, the campaign is continuing to drive Scholarship in Action, the University’s vision to provide students, faculty and communities with the insights needed to incite positive and lasting change in the world. Officially launched in November 2007, the five-year effort has raised a total of over $898 million with less than two years left to achieve the goal by the end of 2012. More information is available at campaign.syr.edu.

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