Dr. Masters recognized with an honorary degree from the oldest Czech Republic university


Scientific ambassador Bettie Sue Masters, Ph.D., the Robert A. Welch Foundation Distinguished Professor in Chemistry in the Health Science Center’s department of biochemistry, will be awarded an honorary doctorate in medical sciences from Charles University in Prague, the oldest and most prestigious Czech university founded in 1348, and one of the 12 oldest universities in the world.

As the recipient of the Doctorate Honoris Causae, Dr. Masters joins an elite group of Nobel Laureates and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“I am immensely honored by this recognition,” Dr. Masters said. “I’ve attended several of these ceremonies in past years and I know what a beautiful and honorific occasion it will be.”

Dr. Masters’ research focuses on determining the structure and function of the nitric oxide synthases, which produce nitric oxide in various organs for mediation of neural signaling, dilation of blood vessels, or killing of foreign cells such as tumors and bacterial or fungal agents. She will be honored for her scientific contributions to the nitric oxide synthases field during a ceremony on May 30 that will be attended by all of the presidents and provosts of universities throughout the Czech Republic.

Ferid Murad, M.D., Ph.D., who received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1998 with Robert Furchgott, Ph.D., and Louis Ignarro, Ph.D., will also be awarded the honorary degree for his original research on nitric oxide as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system.

“I was involved in discovering how proteins and enzymes produced nitric oxide,” Dr. Masters said. “So, while Dr. Murad worked on the biological aspects of nitric oxide, I focused on the chemical mechanisms. I feel very privileged to be sharing the stage with this Nobel Laureate.”

Dr. Masters has been involved in activities in Prague, such as educating and training scientists as well as scientific interchange, for the past 10 years, and co-organized an international meeting in Prague in 2002. Through her colleague, Pavel Martásek, M.D., Ph.D., adjunct professor of biochemistry at the Health Science Center and professor of pediatrics and medicine at Charles University, she has assisted the Czech Republic in learning the American systems of peer review and recognition of scientific achievement. The Czech Republic has established its own systems based on the U.S. model.

Dr. Masters has served as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, as chair of the U.S. National Committee of the National Academy of Sciences to the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and as a member of the Advisory Committee to the director of the NIH. She was inducted into the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies in 1996.

Congratulations to Dr. Masters.

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