INDIANAPOLIS -- Dr. Anantha Shekhar, Indiana University associate vice president for university clinical affairs and research and executive dean for research affairs at the IU School of Medicine, has been awarded the IU President's Medal for Excellence.
The medal is the highest honor the university's president can bestow. It recognizes those who've made outstanding professional achievements and provided exceptional service to the university.
IU President Michael A. McRobbie surprised Shekhar with the award during the School of Medicine's spring all-school meeting, which was conducted virtually, on April 29. Shekhar oversees all research-related activities at the school, which is the nation's largest medical school.
"In gratitude for your extraordinary leadership at IU and the enormous contributions you have made to translationlational science and the search for cures and treatments for diseases and disorders, I am privileged and honored to present you with the President's Medal for Excellence," McRobbie said.
Shekhar's leadership and research at IU have been transformative, McRobbie said. He earned his doctoral degree in neuroscience at the university before joining the faculty in 1989. The National Institutes of Health started funding Shekhar's research that same year. His work has resulted in patents for new therapies and the discovery of new treatments for panic and related anxiety disorders.
He also served as the principal investigator on the IU Precision Health Grand Challenge initiative, the first of IU's Grand Challenges. The initiative aims to develop cures and preventive treatments for devastating diseases prevalent among Hoosiers. It has resulted in an estimated economic impact of nearly $200 million in four years, the hiring of more than 126 scientists and the creation of four companies.
Shekhar is the founding director of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, an NIH-funded research partnership among IU, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, as well as other private and public organizations. Indiana CTSI is the only statewide institute of its kind.
As executive associate dean for research affairs, Shekhar has helped increase NIH funding for the School of Medicine's research by 73 percent since 2015. The school set a university record last year with the amount of NIH research funding it received.
In addition to his leadership at IU, Shekhar has co-founded or led five biotech companies. He has served on numerous boards, including the Advisory Board for Clinical Research for the NIH Director and the Advisory Council for the NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Science. Shekhar also chaired Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's Committee on Mental Health Workforce Development.
Shekhar is leaving IU to serve as the University of Pittsburgh's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. He begins his new position in June.
"I am confident he will bring to Pitt Med and the University of Pittsburgh the same kind of vision, tireless work ethic, integrity, and the ability to foster and lead successful partnerships that have contributed to his success here at Indiana University," McRobbie said.
A special webpage is set up where people can post messages of thanks to Shekhar for his contributions to IU.