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Faculty Recognition Award
Joseph M. Metzger

"Daring” and "innovative” are two words frequently invoked to describe Joseph M. Metzger’s groundbreaking research on the molecular mechanisms of contraction in cardiac and skeletal muscle, which has greatly increased understanding of muscular performance, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.

Metzger, who joined the University in 1991 and holds joint appointments in the departments of physiology and internal medicine, has created a cardiac muscle-cell system that allows the transfer of genes into heart cells in order to assess the impact of those genes on the production of force and motion, the major function of muscle cells. The approach has the advantage of shedding light on the primary role of a normal or mutated gene in an otherwise normal muscle cell.

Developing the technique, however, was a considerable task as the technology to transfer genes and culture differentiated muscle cells was largely unproven at the time. Metzger and his team persevered, however, and their findings were published in top journals. The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association, has opened the path to treatment for a variety of heart diseases.

Metzger, associate editor of Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics and a member of the NIH Cardiovascular Study Section, is a leader in developing the U-M Cardiovascular Center. He also has been a driving force in—and director of—the University’s new Center for Integrative Genomics, which is working to advance understanding of the function of genes within an organism. Based in the Medical School, the center is of great importance to the University and to the state’s Life Sciences Corridor. Concurrently, Metzger has established a new graduate course in integrative genomics, further expanding the potential of students and faculty to grasp the complex ramifications of the post-genome era.

Metzger brings the same creativity and energy that characterizes his research and service to classroom teaching. Students have elected him for outstanding teaching awards three years running, including the Galen Medical Society’s Elizabeth Crosby Teaching Award. The students he mentors also win many honors, with one recently receiving a Rackham Distinguished Dissertation Award.



Michael A. Savageau
Lawrence Sklar
Kensell D. Wise
Robert E. Lewis
Don B. Clewell
Andrew F. Nagy
Jeffrey R. Parsons
Julia Adams
Richard D. Woods
Fred C. Adams
Photios G. Ioannou

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