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East Tennessee State University

Research Award


2020 Distinguished Faculty Award for Research - Dr. Mohamed Elgazzar

Dr. Mohamed ElgazzarThe Distinguished Faculty Award in Research was presented to Dr. Mohamed Elgazzar, professor in the ETSU Quillen College of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine.

The award was presented at the annual Faculty Convocation, which was delivered in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A member of the ETSU faculty since 2010, Elgazzar has gained national recognition for his research focusing on the molecular immunobiology of sepsis and chronic inflammation.

“Dr. Elgazzar is a brilliant researcher,” said Dr. Zhi Q. Yao, professor in ETSU’s Division of Infectious Diseases and director of the Hepatitis (HCV/HIV) Program at the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center. “He has the ability to recognize and respond to fundamental gaps in our understanding of clinical immunology and inflammatory diseases.”

In less than three years of his tenure at ETSU, Elgazzar received extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including one R15 grant and one R01 grant, totaling approximately $1.7 million. Recently, he has been awarded a prestigious NIH R35 grant totaling $1.85 million for his novel discovery of the role of long noncoding RNAs in the development of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in sepsis.

He is also serving as co-investigator with Yao and Dr. Jonathan Moorman, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at ETSU, on other NIH-sponsored projects. In addition, he has forged additional collaboration with Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Elgazzar has actively disseminated his novel research findings through publications and presentations, with 34 original research papers and five review articles published since 2010. His work has been published in multiple prestigious journals and he also served as a reviewer for multiple high-impact journals and as an editorial board member of the International Journal of Immunology and Immunotherapy and Journal of Clinical and Cellular Immunology.

“Promising scientists like Dr. Elgazzar are extremely important to ETSU and the College of Medicine’s research programs,” Yao said.

Elgazzar graduated from Tanta University in Egypt in 1991 with a master’s degree in immunology. He earned a Ph.D. degree in molecular immunology in 2002 from Kumamoto University in Japan. He completed postdoctoral training as a research fellow from 2003 to 2007 at University of Colorado and Wake Forest University.

[From ETSU News August 21, 2020]

2019 Distinguished Faculty Award for Research - Dr. Alok Agarwal

Dr. Alok Agrawal was named the recipient of ETSU’s 2019 Distinguished Faculty Award in Research. Agrawal is a professor in the Quillen College of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Alok AgrawalAgrawal earned recognition for his 34 years of research related to C-reactive protein (CRP). His research has contributed immensely to the identification of possible new therapeutic approaches to treatment of pneumococcal infection, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

“Dr. Agrawal’s contributions to research and towards the mission of the College of Medicine and East Tennessee State University are exemplary,” said Dr. Bill Block, dean of Quillen College of Medicine. “His work has received international attention.”

Agrawal’s CRP research at ETSU grew from research he had been conducting as a graduate student in India in the 1980s. Later, he continued the same research as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and then as a research assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University. He joined ETSU’s faculty in 2002.

Agrawal received his first National Institutes of Health (NIH) RO1 grant funding in 2002, and since that time has received approximately $6 million in NIH funding to expand his CRP research.

“The strong support of Dr. Agrawal’s research by NIH funding demonstrates the significance of his findings, and his productivity and independence as a scientist as extramurally and expertly assisted by peer reviewers at the national level,” said Dr. Gregory Ordway, senior advisor to the dean for research and professor in the departments of Biomedical Sciences and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Quillen. “He is an outstanding scientist making major advances in research in cardiovascular medicine and immunology, and a highly respected educator.”

Agrawal has authored almost 60 publications on CRP and has presented his research at seminars around the world.

On a national level, Agrawal serves on multiple editorial boards and as an ad hoc reviewer for more than 250 publications. He has participated as an ad hoc reviewer for NIH study sections and review committees on more than 35 occasions.

At ETSU, Agrawal has trained and mentored many young research scientists and earned numerous university awards for his teaching and research, including the Dean’s Distinguished Research Award in 2009 and 2017. For 12 consecutive years, he has received the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Student Award for either or both “Course Director of the Year” and “Professor of the Year.”

Agrawal holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Banaras Hindu University and a Ph.D. from Visva Bharati University.

[From ACCENT Faculty and Staff Newsletter, September 3, 2019] 


2018 Distinguished Faculty Award for Research - Dr. Courtney Hall

The 2018 Distinguished Faculty Award in Research was presented to Dr. Courtney Hall, a professor in the ETSU College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Sciences Department of Physical Therapy and a research health scientist at the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center.

In receiving the award, Hall earned recognition for her years of research relDr. Courtney Hallated to balance, gait and vestibular dysfunction.

“My academic career has focused on building a programmatic research portfolio to better understand age-related changes, both normal and pathological, in postural control and how best to intervene therapeutically to prevent loss of mobility and falls,” Hall said. “My research has focused on motor, sensory and cognitive contributions to balance control in older adults and currently, my research is geared toward developing novel interventions to reduce dizziness and fall risk in older adults.”

Throughout her career, Hall has been the recipient of more than $7 million in research funds from federal and other entities as either the principal or co-investigator of 11 grants. Her research has resulted in 34 peer-reviewed journal articles, eight book chapters, 19 peer-reviewed abstracts and eight peer-reviewed scientific presentations. Hall currently has three active grants totaling over $2.6 million.

In addition to working with other physical therapy professionals through her research, Hall works interprofessionally with faculty from other areas, including audiology, medicine and pharmacology.

“Dr. Hall is one of the research leaders in our college,” said Dr. Don Samples, dean of the ETSU College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. “Perhaps even more significant is the impact she has had on the patients she treats who have traumatic brain injuries and vestibular dysfunction. She is on the cutting edge of the field of rehabilitation science and makes a difference in the lives of the patients she treats.”

Hall has been on faculty at ETSU since 2011. Prior to coming to ETSU, Hall was an assistant professor at Emory University, held a joint appointment at the Atlanta VAMC, and was an investigator at the Birmingham/Atlanta Geriatric Research and Education Clinical Consortium.

She earned two undergraduate degrees – one in mathematics from Davidson College and the other in physical therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received a master’s degree in exercise and movement sciences from the University of Oregon and her Ph.D. in kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin.

[From ETSU News Release, 24 August 2018]


2017 - David Harker, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy and Humanities

2016 - Jonathan Moorman, Quillen College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine

2015 - Krishna Singh, Quillen College of Medicine, Department of Biomedical Sciences

2014 - Richard Kortum, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy and Humanities

2013 - Gregory Ordway, Quillen College of Medicine, Department of Biomedical Sciences

2012 - John Yao, Quillen College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine

2011 - Joel Hillhouse, College of Public Health, Department of Community Health

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