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University of the Sciences presented the 2018 Faculty Award of Merit to Bela Peethambaran, PhD, during its Founders’ Day ceremony on Feb. 15, 2018. The award honors an outstanding faculty member who “exemplifies the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of USciences’ founders, and who has engaged in research or some form of scholarly pursuit that results in the development or discovery of something new.”
An associate professor of biology and co-director of biology graduate studies programs, Dr. Peethambaran has developed a number of research projects focused primarily on engineering plants as a resource for antioxidants and bioactive compounds such as phenolics and flavonols.
Since joining USciences seven years ago, Dr. Peethambaran has dedicated her research, which integrates several disciplines such as molecular biology, cell biology, biotechnology and pharmacognosy, to investigate the different genes that regulate biosynthesis of natural products in plants. Her lab has worked on and isolating identifying novel natural products and investigating their applications. Several compounds isolated from novel herbs are also being studied for their potential use as alternative/complementary medicines in cancer prophylaxis.
Current research in Dr. Peethambaran's lab includes striving towards discovering a plant-derived treatment for Parkinson's disease, identifying new therapies for the treatment of Acute myeloid leukemia, and treating triple negative breast cancer, one of the most difficult sub-types of breast cancer to treat.
In 2015, Dr. Peethambaran received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, an annual award given to a full-time faculty member who over the years has demonstrated the highest achievements in teaching.
Dr. Peethambaran, who received her PhD from Mississippi State University and went on to a postdoctoral teaching fellow position at Villanova University followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship at University of Minnesota, has been with the University since 2010. She is native of Ahmedabad City located in India’s Gujarat State.
Each year, Founders’ Day at USciences recognizes its establishment on Feb. 23, 1821, as Philadelphia College of Pharmacy—the first college of pharmacy in North America, which is now a part of USciences. In 2018, the University bestowed an honorary doctor of science degree to George M. Wohlreich, MD, MA, president and CEO of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; presented merit awards to current undergraduate and graduate students, and staff and faculty members; and recognized endowed positions.