December 11, 2002

MEDIA CONTACT: Joanna Downer
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Clements Named Director of Comparative Medicine at Johns Hopkins 

Janice Clements, Ph.D., has been named the first director of the new Department of Comparative Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. A faculty member at the school since 1978, Clements also holds the titles of Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs, director of the Retrovirus Laboratory, and professor of comparative medicine, neurology and pathology. She had served as interim director of the Division of Comparative Medicine since 1999.

"Johns Hopkins has been fortunate to have had Janice Clements's presence, guidance and leadership for the last 24 years and will surely benefit from the wealth of experience she brings to her new role as director of Comparative Medicine," said Edward D. Miller, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. "She brings perspective to this position that would have been impossible to find elsewhere."

Clements's substantial research program focuses on the mechanisms of retroviruses -- viruses like HIV that use their RNA (ribonucleic acid) as a launching pad to incorporate themselves into cells' genetic material. In particular, Clements studies lentiviruses, which cause chronic, progressive diseases of the immune system, central nervous system, lungs and joints. She is interested in understanding the molecular basis of viral interactions with cells, particularly in the central nervous system, which may reveal weaknesses in the process, providing possible opportunities for preventing or treating HIV infections and diseases of the central nervous system in humans, among other things.

Comparative Medicine was elevated from divisional to departmental status this year, in recognition of the importance of animal models in the school's research mission, according to Miller. Its continuing mission is to provide leadership in animal model research to understand, prevent and treat human diseases. In addition to its research mission, Comparative Medicine includes faculty board certified in veterinary pathology and laboratory animal medicine who provide clinical and diagnostic expertise to Laboratory Animal Services, which ensures the health of animals used in research at The Johns Hopkins University.

"The challenge over the coming years will be to broaden the department's academic leadership in animal model research and to establish an institution-wide mouse phenotyping resource to ensure the excellence of animal-based research," says Clements. "We also must recruit additional faculty with expertise in both basic science research and academic veterinary specialties -- faculty who are in great demand."

Clements received a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1973 from the University of Maryland. She carried out postdoctoral research in neurovirology at Johns Hopkins in the departments of molecular biology and genetics and neurology. After completing her training in 1978, she joined the faculty of neurology, and in 1988 joined the division of comparative medicine. She has directed the Retrovirus Laboratory since 1992, and in 1999 was named vice dean.

Clements has been instrumental in evaluating and improving the environment and opportunities for women faculty at the medical school, originally chairing from 1999 to 2001 the Women's Leadership Council, which consisted of the women full professors at the School of Medicine. This influential group has expanded to include senior women associate professors and has taken the lead in providing career development seminars for junior faculty.



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