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Loyola School of Medicine names Senior and Junior Scientists of the Year

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MAYWOOD, Ill. – Susan Baker, PhD, a leading researcher of a class of viruses that includes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), has been named Senior Scientist of the Year at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Wei Qiu, PhD, who is researching the molecular mechanisms of liver cancer, has been named Junior Scientist of the Year.

The awards were presented on October 29 during Loyola's 36th annual St. Albert's Day, which celebrates the commitment to research on Loyola's Health Sciences Campus.

The Scientist of the Year awards are selected based on scholarly productivity, service to the institution and community, professional society activities, research funding, mentoring, and peer-review activities for both scientific journals and external sponsors of research funding.

Baker is a professor in the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Infectious Disease and Immunology Research Institute. She received her PhD from Vanderbilt University and did postdoctoral training at the University of Southern California.

Baker has served as the lead researcher on National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants to develop antivirals and other new drugs to fight emerging viruses known as coronaviruses. She also is researching what causes a childhood illness called Kawasaki disease, and how the disease develops. Baker has served on several NIH study sections and was a member of the NIH's VIRA Study Section from 2011-2015. She is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Virology and Nature Scientific Reports and is co-chair of the International Nidovirus Symposium to be held in 2017.

Baker is an advocate for using active-learning techniques in the teaching of graduate and medical students.

Wei is an assistant professor in the Loyola Stritch Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Research. He received his PhD from the Zoology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and did postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh.

In 2013, he received the Liver Scholar Award from the American Liver Foundation and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. He has received three NIH grants and has served as a reviewer for several scientific journals, including Hepatology and Oncotarget.

Wei served as course director of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's Journal Club, in which students present seminars on recent important research articles.

Also during St. Albert's Day, Majid Afshar, MD, was named a Dean's Office Clinical Scholar. The program helps young physicians become independent, funded researchers by providing scholarly mentoring and financial support. Afshar is a pulmonologist who is studying the effects of alcohol consumption on the immune systems of burn patients.

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