KSU grad named VP for research

Joe Shearer

Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy announced its appointment of Kent State graduate Walter Horton Jr. for vice president of research Jan. 4.

In an e-mail interview, Horton described some of the areas he and researchers will explore, including auditory neurosciences — which is the study of how sound is processed by the brain —ÿand skeletal biology. However, research will not be limited to those two subject areas.

“We have additional funded research ongoing at the medical school in the areas of lipid biology, Parkinson’s disease, microbiology and cell signaling,” Horton said. “The key will be to focus on areas where we can obtain funding and make significant contributions to the health and economy of our region.”

Horton attended Kent State for his undergraduate studies where he majored in zoology. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in anatomy and cell biology from the University of Cincinnati. Horton said the four years he spent at Kent State provided him with a solid foundation in both his basic knowledge of biology, and his ability to integrate different ideas.

“I could not have received a better undergraduate education anywhere,” Horton said.

Horton now serves as associate director of the School of Biomedical Sciences at Kent State, which collaborates with NEOUCOM to grant masters and doctoral degrees.

“I think the program will continue to be a force in training our future generation of scientists and educators,” Horton said.

Ashleigh Nugent, 24, is working toward her Ph.D. at NEOUCOM where she majors in biomedical science with a concentration in cell and molecular biology. She works closely with Horton, whom she met four and a half years ago during her undergraduate studies at the University of Akron.

“(Dr. Horton’s appointment) is going to be an excellent step forward,” Nugent said. “He’s always been really good about collaboration.”

She explained that someone in Horton’s position would have to collaborate with other schools and doctors to effectively research areas where NEOUCOM has limited funding. She said Horton is currently collaborating with doctors from the University of Florida and the National Institutes of Health.

“He’s an excellent diplomat, and he’s able to talk to anyone on an intelligent level,” Nugent said.

Horton said he will do everything possible to obtain funds for research, and to reach out and collaborate with fellow researchers.

“I will be talking to all of our clinical and university partners in order to identify areas where we can work together to carry out research that will benefit us all,” he said.

Horton also said he will bring his passion for research and discovery to his new position.

“My goal as a scientist has always been to make a difference and try to do something that would benefit future generations,” Horton said. “That will continue to be my goal in my new position.”

In addition to his position as vice president for research, which goes into effect Feb. 1, Horton is also associate dean for graduate studies and an anatomy professor for NEOUCOM.

When asked if he ever gets overwhelmed, and if he gets enough sleep, Horton answered: “Yes to the first question, and no to the second, but it is worth it.”

Contact health trends reporter Joe Shearer at [email protected].