Dr. Michael Summers: Milestone Research with Students

Dr. Michael Summers is in demand.  The professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UMBC is a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator (HHMI), one of just 355 investigators in the country.  He shares this distinction  with 13 Nobel Prize winners.  He shares his lab with students at UMBC.

Summers with student researchers in lab

Summers with student researchers in lab

UMBC recently agreed to terms with Vironova, a Swedish biotech firm, to license  HIV -drug technology that Summers  developed with students in his lab at UMBC.  According to Summers,  “we discovered a keyhole that nobody knew existed before, and when we stick something into that keyhole, the virus is dead.”  The work is a bit too scientifically advanced for blog-like encapsulation, but it’s clear from Vironova’s licensing agreement that Dr. Summers and his students are on to something of considerable merit.

The students are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with an accomplished medical researcher, and Summers also relishes the time spent with UMBC students.  For instance, the following quote is found on Dr. Summers’ biographical page on the HHMI website:

Summers’ mentoring has earned him as much praise in some circles as his achievements in the laboratory. More than 120 undergraduates have trained in his lab, about half of them African Americans, and most go on to highly regarded PhD or MD-PhD programs. “While I am very proud of our research, I think it is the work I’ve done with the students that brings me the greatest personal satisfaction and may, in the end, be of greatest importance,” he says.

Summers is the type of researcher that the HHMI desires:

Since the early 1990s, investigators have been selected through rigorous national competitions with the aim of identifying researchers with the potential to make significant contributions to science…In appointing investigators, the Institute is guided by the principle of “people, not projects.” Specifically, the Institute seeks talented and productive scientists who identify and rigorously pursue significant biological questions; push their chosen field into new areas of inquiry, develop new tools and methods that enable creative experimental approaches, and forge links between basic biology and medicine.

Please visit Dr. Summers’ UMBC-HMMI link for information regarding student research opportunities.


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