Three IIT-Affiliated Faculty Awarded by College of Human Medicine

December 7, 2020

Three IIT-affiliated faculty members were recently selected for prestigious awards by the College of Human Medicine at their annual awards ceremony. Dr. Masako Morishita received the Early Career Research Excellence Award, Dr. Eran Andrechek received the Research Excellence Award, and Dr. James Trosko received the William B. Weil Jr., MD, FAAP, Endowed Distinguished Pediatric Faculty Award. 


Masako MorishitaEarly Career Research Excellence Award - Masako Morishita, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and an environmental health scientist whose research focuses on exposure science. Her expertise is in the health effects of indoor and outdoor airborne particle pollution and of metals found in soil. Dr. Morishita conducts multidisciplinary studies to better understand the adverse impacts of these exposures on human health.

Her expertise greatly strengthens the department’s strategy in achieving its mission to improve human health in individuals (patients/families), communities (workplace, environment) and the population (health disparities, preventive medicine).

After arriving at MSU, Dr. Morishita established the MSU Exposure Science Laboratory. Her state-of-the art lab is at the forefront worldwide in the development of methods for analyzing the effects of particulate matter and ambient metals on health. She has also developed novel techniques and protocols for detecting trace-level ambient nanoparticles in biological tissue samples.

Since joining MSU, Dr. Morishita has made substantial contributions to the department’s research portfolio through NIH funding. She is currently Principal Investigator (PI) on one R01 and Co-investigator on two others. Of note, the grant on which she is PI was recently awarded a 5-year renewal, which underscores NIH recognition of the significance and impact of her work. Dr. Morishita is also primary mentor for a junior faculty in the MSU Department of Sociology on an NIH K-award focused on promotion of environmental health literacy in marginalized communities.

Dr. Morishita is recognized in her field both nationally and internationally for her work in exposure science research and for applying her knowledge and expertise in community-based environmental health interventions. She has a total of 55 publications in high-impact journals (including JAMA Internal Medicine, impact factor 20), 14 of which were published since joining MSU.


Eran AndrechekResearch Excellence Award - Eran Andrechek, PhD, is an associate professor and a recognized leader with many outstanding contributions to the field of breast cancer research, as well as an exceptional mentor and teacher in the Department of Physiology.

His research program integrates cutting edge bioinformatics along with novel mouse models to understand the heterogeneity of breast cancers. Eran and his team have discovered the heterogeneity both within and between mouse models of breast cancers and identified the strong similarities between many mouse models and specific subtypes of human breast cancer. The combination of cutting-edge genomic approaches with novel mouse models may provide potential opportunity using a bioinformatic approach to predict a personalized course of treatment for breast cancer patients.

Eran is a highly respected and indispensable leader of the cancer research community as demonstrated by the numerous national and international invited research talks he has presented. Through his scholarly efforts, he has published 50 peer-reviewed papers which have been cited >3000 times. His research has been published in leading journals including Molecular Cell, Nature Communication, Cancer Research, and Oncogene. He has also maintained a high level of external funding from National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and other cancer foundations.

Eran is a greatly valued and sought-after collaborator. He has mentored five doctoral students who have been very successful in their next career stages as postdoctoral fellows or clinician-scientists and is currently supervising two additional doctoral students. He has also mentored 28 undergraduate researchers during his tenure here at MSU.

Dr. Andrechek truly epitomizes the spirit and qualities recognized by this award.


James TroskoWilliam B. Weil Jr., MD, FAAP, Endowed Distinguished Pediatric Faculty Award - James E. Trosko, PhD, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development and is also recognized as an MSU Distinguished Faculty.

After a chance weekend meeting with CHM’s Founding Dean, Dr. Andrew Hunt, he urged me to meet his recently hired Chairman of the Department of Human Development (the precursor of the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development), Dr. William B. Weil, Jr., on the following Monday.

In a matter of two hours, he outlined his vision to integrate basic social and natural scientists with his clinicians in teaching medical students and doing research to understand, treat and prevent childhood diseases. I was so overwhelmed by his enthusiasm and his own personal dedication to live out his own goal as a model for others, I bought into his vision and he offered me a position.

In his dedication to actuate his vision, he hired Dr. David Kallen, a clinical sociologist; Dr. Betty Seagull, a clinical psychologist; Dr. Britt Robillard, a sociologist and director of the primary care residence in medicine and pediatrics; Dr. Chia Cheng Chang, Human geneticist; and several MD and PhD. candidates, Dr. Mike Bailey, an PhD physiologist/MD child endocrinologist; Dr. Robert Noll, an MD child psychologist and pain specialist (USA Air Force Jet pilot) and created a unique academic environment.

While I “paid a major academic price” to spend my time training medical, osteopathic and veterinary students to do research (several of whom became faculty), teaching students in the three medical schools, traveling to give grand rounds to all our affiliated campuses, and mentoring a distinguished CHM faculty, (e.g., Dr. Howard Brody, MD, PhD in medical ethics) my peers told me I should have joined a traditional graduate PhD department.

On retrospect, that decision to work within this type of interdisciplinary environment ended up well for all those that worked with me. Having been mentored by so many great intellectual academics, such as Dr. Richard Setlow and Dr. Van R. Potter, and being supported by Dr. Weil, turned out to be the greatest experience I have had.

To be recognized as a recipient of the Dr. William B. Weil, Jr. Award is received with genuine humility. Together with my colleague, Dr. Andre Bachmann, this helps me realize that Dr. Weil’s vision is still alive under the current leadership of Dr. Keith English.