Susan Swindells, M.B.B.S., is 14th Scientist Laureate

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public relations | January 21, 2020

Image with caption: Susan Swindells, M.B.B.S.

Susan Swindells, M.B.B.S.

An international leader in HIV-associated opportunistic infections, Susan Swindells, M.B.B.S., has been named the 14th UNMC Scientist Laureate.

The award is the highest honor UNMC bestows upon its researchers.

Dr. Swindells, professor of internal medicine-infectious diseases, will be honored March 3, along with 21 other researchers recently named UNMC Distinguished Scientist, Research Leadership and New Investigator Award winners for 2019. The awards ceremony will be at 4 p.m. in the Durham Research Center Auditorium.

"Dr. Swindells has been instrumental in changes to HIV clinical care for adults and children, research and education at UNMC," said Jennifer Larsen, M.D., vice chancellor for research. "More importantly, she is enhancing the lives of patients through her work as a researcher, clinician and advocate. She also has been a behind-the-scenes mentor and advocate for many faculty and students at UNMC, and her work in the community has been recognized again and again. She is an outstanding role model as well as an outstanding recipient of UNMC's highest scientific recognition."

"Dr. Swindells is one of the most successful clinician scientists at UNMC," said Mark Rupp, M.D., professor and chief of the division of infectious diseases. "She has made important contributions to our understanding and treatment of HIV-associated opportunistic infections, served as a mentor for numerous students, house staff and junior faculty, and provides a terrific role-model for all of us."

In the past five years, Dr. Rupp said, she has been responsible for more than $33 million, including multiple clinical trials and training grants.

Dr. Swindells has been involved in HIV care since 1988. In 1991, she joined UNMC and began serving as medical director of the HIV Clinic, a position she continues to hold today. A clinician and active researcher, she has years of experience in translational and clinical research in the field of HIV/AIDS, with a special interest in tuberculosis co-infection.

Because of her clinical skills, research acumen and well-earned reputation for teamwork, Dr. Swindells was invited to join and then chair the NIAID/ACTG (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases AIDS Clinical Trials Group) committee on optimization of coinfection and comorbidity management (OPMAN), as well as chair the Tuberculosis Working Group.

This led to cutting-edge clinical trials that culminated in a landmark first-author paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, titled "One month of rifapentine and isoniazid to prevent tuberculosis and HIV infected individuals," which is changing clinical practice throughout the world.

Dr. Swindells was invited to join the Scientific Advisory Boards to guide tuberculosis research in India and South Africa. She also is part of the leadership of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group of the National Institutes of Health and works with international sites in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, South America and Haiti.

A native of England, she earned her medical degree from University College London in 1977, with postgraduate training in England and at the University of Washington in Seattle. An active teacher, she has published multiple articles in scholarly journals and has both contributed to and edited textbooks. She is a long-standing member of the Ombuds Team at UNMC and was recognized as a 2011 Distinguished Scientist.

"Dr. Swindells is most deserving of this award," said Debra Romberger, M.D., Henry J. Lehnhoff Professor and chair, UNMC Department of Internal Medicine. "She is a tireless advocate for HIV/AIDS care, education and research and her work in both HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis is changing treatment guidelines on a global scale."

About the awards

The Research Leadership Award is intended to honor scientists previously recognized as Distinguished Scientists who have a longstanding research funding history and also serve as research leaders and mentors on campus.

The Distinguished Scientist Award -- which is sponsored by the chancellor -- recognizes researchers who have been among the most productive scientists at UNMC during the past five years.

New Investigator Awards go to outstanding UNMC scientists who in the past two years have secured their first funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense or other national sources. New investigators also had to demonstrate scholarly activity such as publishing their research and/or presenting their findings at national conventions.

Other award winners are:

Research Leadership

  • Amarnath Natarajan, Ph.D., Eppley Institute

Distinguished Scientists

  • Mark Carlson, M.D., College of Medicine
  • Rebecca Oberley Deegan, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Punita Dhawan, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Apar Ganti, M.D., College of Medicine
  • Amy Hoffman, Ph.D., College of Nursing
  • John Martin Lowe, Ph.D., College of Public Health
  • Aaron Mohs, Ph.D., College of Pharmacy
  • Michel Ouellette, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Kimberly Scarsi, Pharm.D., College of Pharmacy
  • James Wahl, Ph.D., College of Dentistry

New Investigators

  • Ioannis Chatzizisis, M.D., College of Medicine
  • Hongying Dai, Ph.D., College of Public Health
  • Benson Edagwa, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Jennie Hill, Ph.D., College of Public Health
  • Mohd Nasser, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Gurudutt Pendyala, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Satyanarayana Rachagani, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Padmashri Ragunathan, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Kelly Stauch, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Meaghann Weaver, M.D., College of Medicine


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Paula Turpen
January 21, 2020 at 1:38 PM

Congratulations! So glad to see you receive this well-deserved recognition!

Sarah Gloden Carlson
January 21, 2020 at 11:34 AM

Congratulations to all who will be honored!

Lisa Runco
January 21, 2020 at 9:35 AM

Congratulations to Dr. Swindells, she is most deserving of this honor. What a fantastic person and role model she is to so many. Thank you for your service for so many years, Dr. Swindells. Your many patients and students have greatly benefited, as have people worldwide, from your research and discoveries.

Jayme Nekuda
January 21, 2020 at 9:26 AM

Success is delivered only to the deserving, congratulations on all of your impactful achievements Susan. You have done, and continue to do, a tremendous amount of invaluable work.

Howard Gendelman, MD
January 21, 2020 at 8:40 AM

Well deserved. A bright light for UNMC and the world.

Aileen Warren
January 21, 2020 at 8:30 AM

Congratulations Susan. Thanks for your impactful work.

Lisa Spellman
January 21, 2020 at 8:22 AM

Congratulations Dr. Swindells! A well-deserved honor for sure!

Keith Swarts
January 21, 2020 at 7:40 AM

Congrats Dr. Swindells. You are truly a pioneer in making this world a better place for all people. I have enjoyed working with you over the years on both UNMC projects and community endeavors which has resulted in you not only a being collaborating partner but as a friend as well. Continue your research for world health. You are making a difference.