Pharmacologist selected for national science policy fellowship

SAN ANTONIO (June 13, 2011) — The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has selected a UT Health Science Center San Antonio researcher for the prestigious AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship.

Andrea Giuffrida, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology in the Health Science Center Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, begins the fellowship Sept. 1 in Bethesda, Md. The program enables accomplished scientists to contribute to the federal policymaking process while learning firsthand about the intersection of science and policy.

“I believe that in a world constantly facing cultural and technological changes, the active contribution of scientists into government decision-making has never been so relevant and urgent,” Dr. Giuffrida said. “Our future is becoming more dependent on scientific literacy, and scientists can provide powerful analytical tools, ideas and new approaches to overcome increasingly complex national and world challenges.”

Dr. Giuffrida will report to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Science Policy/Office of Biotechnology Activities. He will work on the safety and ethics of clinical trials and management of the NIH-FDA Leadership Council. FDA is short for U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I cannot think of a better opportunity than the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship to acquire the proper skills to facilitate dialogue between scientists and society,” Dr. Giuffrida said. “At the end of my fellowship, I would like to discuss initiatives, projects and policy implementations to benefit the UT Health Science Center and our community.”

Dr. Giuffrida studies the role of natural substances in the body — called endocannabinoids — that play an important role in dopamine transmission in the brain. Endocannabinoids may be therapeutic targets for disorders affected by dopamine dysfunction, such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia. Dr. Giuffrida recently received a $1.2 million grant from the NIH to study the role of the endocannabinoid system in schizophrenia.

Dr. Giuffrida will be on faculty development leave for one year, at which time he will return to the Health Science Center.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $228 million in fiscal year 2010. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $744 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

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