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Dean James Gentile to Become
President of Research Corporation

Posted June 12, 2004

HOLLAND – Dr. James Gentile of the Hope College faculty has been appointed president of Research Corporation of Tucson, Ariz.

Gentile, who is dean for the natural sciences and the Kenneth G. Herrick Professor of Biology at Hope, was chosen following a broad, national search. He will remain at the college until assuming full responsibility with Research Corporation sometime after January of 2005.

“We all congratulate Dean Gentile on this significant appointment at Research Corporation,” said Dr. James Boelkins, provost at Hope. “Although we are disappointed to lose his visionary and able leadership of the Natural Science Division, we expect to continue a strong working relationship with him in the future. Jim has been an integral part of the Natural Science Division as a scholar-teacher, department chair and, for the last 16 years, dean. He has helped to bring national visibility to the Hope science programs through his many interactions and leadership within the external science community. Thus, we extend our sincere thanks for his extraordinary service to Hope College and wish him great success in this well-earned appointment.”

Research Corporation is a private foundation that aids basic research in the physical sciences (astronomy, chemistry and physics) at U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities. Through its five grant programs, Research Corporation supports ideas independently proposed by college and university faculty members and carries on activities related to science advancement. Research Corporation, established in 1912, is the second foundation established in the United States and the only one devoted to the advancement of science.

Gentile has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1976, and has served as dean since 1988.

In February, he was honored as a Fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the highest honors that the association can bestow upon a scientist. He was recognized in the fields of genetic toxicology and mutagenesis, and for distinguished contributions to undergraduate science education.

Gentile has authored or co-authored more than 160 scientific publications since 1974. Over the years his research focus has been on the ways in which higher organisms metabolize environmental chemicals into compounds that cause mutations that result in chronic diseases such as cancer. His earlier work on agricultural chemicals resulted in a new mechanism for assessing the hazardous potential of these agents—one that has become a critical part of the process now used by the U.S. EPA.

His current research efforts are focused on the ways through which organisms undergoing chronic stress -- such as from long-standing viral, bacterial or worm infections -- respond to exposure to carcinogens. The latter work has won international acclaim because of its potential impact on the health of individuals in developing countries, where such chronic diseases are prevalent. Gentile has conducted research with more than 100 undergraduate students, of whom 30 have attained or are working toward Ph.D. degrees.

He is currently serving a four-year term as president of the 10,000-member International Association of Environmental Mutagen Societies, and was president of the North American Environmental Mutagen Society from 1992 to 1994. He was also editor-in-chief of the international journal "Mutation Research" for more than 15 years.

Gentile was the only representative of a liberal arts college to serve on the hand-picked, 11-member team that wrote the report "Bio2010: Undergraduate Education to Prepare Biomedical Research Scientists," released by the National Academy of Sciences in the fall of 2002. As a follow-up to the report, he was appointed by the president of the National Academy to serve as co-chairperson, with Professor Bill Wood of the University of Colorado, of the newly developed "National Academies Summer Institute for Undergraduate Education in Biology," which will be held annually at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He is the only representative of a liberal arts college serving as a member of the prestigious National Research Council Life Science Board, and a former member of the NRC Committee on Undergraduate Science Education (CUSE). The National Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. Gentile is also a member of the Executive Committee of "Project Kaleidoscope," a Washington, D.C.-based initiative focusing on identifying and promoting effective models for undergraduate mathematics and science education. He is also a member of the Board of Governors for the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research. He is a consultant for the National Institutes of Health Sciences, and is serving on Michigan's State Hazardous Site Assessment Committee. He is a consultant with the EPA's Office on Substances/Test Rules Development Branch, and a past consultant to the EPA's Science Advisory Board. He is also a scientific program advisor to the Murdock Trust in Vancouver, Wash., and the Sherman Fairchild Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Gentile has received a variety of national and international honors. The North American Environmental Mutagen Society presented him with its Alexander Hollaender Award for excellence in research and education in March of 2001, the first such awardee ever honored from an undergraduate institution; the EMS Student Educator of the Year Award in 1998; and the EMS Service Recognition Award in 1994. He received the Cancer Research Medallion Award of the National Cancer Institute of Japan in 1997, and the Scientific Recognition Medal of Provincia Di Pisa, Italy, in 1995.

He received his bachelor's degree in biology/chemistry from St. Mary's University in 1968, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Illinois State University in 1970 and 1974. The Illinois State University Alumni Association presented him with an Alumni Achievement Award in 1995.

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