|Diane E. Heck, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Health Science, has been named associate dean for research in the School of Health Sciences and Practice (SHSP). In her new additional role, she will lead the development and implementation of strategies for achieving the school’s research goals, identify and communicate sources of external funding, and facilitate and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. She will also work closely with the faculty to develop and write proposals, lead initiatives to write and develop strategic interdisciplinary college-wide sponsored research projects, and establish internal and external research partnerships. Dr. Heck will focus significant effort toward the development and translation of funding-ready and funded projects, as well as building sustainable research enterprises.
She will also regularly interact with the SHSP research committee and its chair to gain insight into faculty research directions and needs and offers solutions and innovations available to advance and expand research at SHSP. She will actively communicate the research committee’s insights and information concerning the conduct and promotion of population-based and clinical research to the greater NYMC community.
“I am excited to take on this new role to elevate the research endeavors in the School of Health Sciences and Practice,” said Dr. Heck. “I am looking forward to developing productive working relationships with NYMC and Touro research administrators, faculty and staff to advance population-based and clinical investigations.”
“Dr. Heck is uniquely suited, as one of NYMC's top researchers, to fill this all-essential role as we implement the 2017-2018 strategic plan for the School of Health Sciences and Practice,” said Robert W. Amler, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice and vice president for government affairs.
Dr. Heck joined NYMC in 2007 and under her leadership, the SHSP environmental health science program has flourished. It became the first fully-accredited distance-learning M.P.H. program in environmental health science in the United States and has attracted many new students, including U.S. active military and students from across the globe. She initiated the SHSP Annual Research and Scholarship Day, now in its fifth year. The popular and successful event encourages research, stimulates networking among students and faculty, and expresses appreciation to NYMC and community mentors.
She brought federally funded research programs to the SHSP and worked in collaboration with researchers in many disciplines including biological sciences, chemistry, translational medicine, and social and population science, to foster research and drug development projects. Dr. Heck, a member of the consortium of researchers at New York Medical College, Rutgers University and Lehigh University, is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a five-year grant for research on the development of drugs to treat toxicity from chemical agents used in a terrorist attack. The grant, which has thus far received continuing funding for 2006-2020, with successful renewal funding in 2011 and 2016, provides scientists in the consortium the funds needed to continue a decades-long collaboration, aimed at devising drug therapies to use if deadly chemical poisons are released into the general population. Over the course of the project, the NIH has provided more than $60 million to these investigators for the research.
Dr. Heck received a B.S. degree from Douglass College at Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology, also from Rutgers. She held faculty positions in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University and the Department of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. As an educator, she taught and mentored undergraduate, medical and graduate students in public health, environmental health and epidemiology, as well as in basic biomedical sciences including the cell and molecular biology of cancer, pharmacology, toxicology, drug development and regulatory affairs.
A holder of six U.S. patents, Dr. Heck has more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and also contributes to the community of science as a project reviewer for the NIH. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the UMDNJ Gallo Award, the American Thoracic Society New Investigator Research Award and the National Cancer Institute Shannon Award for Excellence in Innovative Research. In addition to managing her department, she also serves on numerous college-wide committees to further develop academic programs and enhance the research and technology enterprise at New York Medical College.