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UTHealth's Kevin Morano receives prestigious teaching honor

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston


IMAGE: UTHealth microbiologist Kevin Morano, Ph.D., was recognized for teaching excellence. view more

Credit: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Kevin Morano, Ph.D., a microbiologist at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), has been recognized for teaching excellence by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation.

The San Antonio-based foundation started the Piper Professors Program in 1958 to recognize dedicated college teachers who have made a special impact on their students and the community. Morano is one of 10 Piper Professors for 2015.

"Dr. Morano exemplifies teaching and academic excellence. Our students will receive long-term benefits from having such teaching mentors as Dr. Morano," said Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., president, H. Wayne Hightower Distinguished Professor in the Medical Sciences and Alkek-Williams Distinguished Chair at UTHealth.

Morano teaches at UTHealth Medical School and The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, which is operated by UTHealth and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is the associate dean for faculty affairs at UTHealth Medical School.

"Dr. Morano routinely receives high scores in student evaluations," said Michael Blackburn, Ph.D., one of two deans at the Graduate School. "His students have won numerous awards and have received excellent postdoctoral or faculty positions."

Morano's research interests include learning more about the molecular causes of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's diseases. The hope is that this information will lead to new treatments.

These conditions are caused by problems with the assembly of proteins and can damage the central nervous system. This is called protein misfolding and Morano's laboratory is working on ways to reverse the damage.

George Stancel, Ph.D., executive vice president for academic and research affairs and holder of the Roger J. Bulger, M.D., Distinguished Professorship at UTHealth, noted that Morano's research and service activities were recently recognized at the national level by his election as a fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Morano's appointment in UTHealth Medical School is in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

"Dr. Kevin Morano is a highly respected, nationally known scientist who incorporates his special teaching skills in every aspect of his academic life," said Theresa Koehler, Ph.D., department chair and holder of the Herbert L. and Margaret W. DuPont Distinguished Professorship in Biomedical Science at UTHealth.

Morano received an undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the University of California, Irvine, and a doctoral degree in microbiology from the University of California, Davis. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan. Morano and his wife, Lisa, have two children and live in Pearland.

Morano was nominated by Blackburn and his fellow dean at the Graduate School, Michelle Barton, Ph.D., a professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Blackburn is the holder of the John P. McGovern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Endowed Distinguished Professorship and the William S. Kilroy Sr. Chair in Pulmonary Disease at UTHealth.

Stancel and Koehler are on the faculty of the Graduate School.

Past Piper Professors Program recipients from UTHealth include Ruth E. Bulger, Ph.D.; John C McMahon, Ph.D.; Kathleen Rita Gibson, Ph.D.; Lu Ann Aday, Ph.D.; Stephen H. Linder, Ph.D.; Octavio C. Pinell, M.D.; and R. Andrew Harper, M.D.


The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation was organized in 1950 and was incorporated in the State of Texas as a non-profit charitable corporation. The late Randall Gordon Piper and his wife, Minnie Stevens Piper, were the principal donors. Piper Professors receive a $5,000 award.

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