By Wendy Sarubbi | August 6, 2010 12:00 am

Two associate professors and an associate dean at the UCF College of Medicine have been named to UCF’s prestigious Millionaires Club for 2010, joining a total of 41 people honored for receiving $1 million or more in research grants for the fiscal year.

The honorees are Drs. Alexander Cole and Cristina Fernandez-Valle, associate professors of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, and Jeanette Schreiber, the college’s associate dean for special projects and chief legal officer.

The UCF Office of Research & Commercialization began the Millionaires Club a decade ago to recognize faculty members who had earned significant research dollars. Since 2000, 100 faculty members have been named to the Millionaires Club, bringing to UCF almost $1.1 billion in research funding. This year’s 41 honorees comprise the largest number of Millionaires Club members in UCF history.

Dr. Cole was recognized for receiving nearly $1.3 million in research funding for his work to investigate how the body’s natural antibiotics called “antimicrobial peptides” could be used to fight diseases such as HIV. Dr. Cole’s 2010 grants include $100,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization’s first grant to a UCF professor.

Dr. Fernandez-Valle was honored for $1 million in grants that fund her research specialty: Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), a disease that can leave children and young adults deaf, partially paralyzed or brain damaged. She is investigating proteins that may help treat tumors associated with NF2. Although the tumors are benign, their locations, usually in the hearing and balance nerve in the brain, lead to deafness and facial paralysis.

Ms. Schreiber was honored for a $7.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that will help Central Florida doctors develop and use electronic health records to improve patient care. The grant will establish a Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (REC) to provide doctors with technical assistance, guidance and best practices in electronic health records.

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