Dunn named interim chair of anatomy and cell biology

Michael L. Good, M.D., interim dean of the College of Medicine, announced the appointment of William A. Dunn Jr., Ph.D., as interim chair of the department of anatomy and cell biology.

Dr. Dunn is a professor of anatomy and cell biology and has been a faculty member in the department since 1987. He is a researcher whose work has been consistently funded by the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation during the past 20 years, and a teacher whose passion for helping medical and graduate students has been rewarded numerous times here at the College of Medicine.

Dr. Dunn’s research focuses on mechanisms related to autophagy, a cell survival process that allows the cell to degrade portions of itself, recycle nutrients and rid itself of damaged components. Most recently, he has collaborated with other researchers throughout the UF Health Science Center to study the role autophagy plays in aging and diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration. His work has resulted in 71 research articles and nine book chapters. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Cell Biology and the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

He is widely recognized for his teaching and mentorship. He teaches medical histology to first-year medical students as well as several graduate seminars for the college’s Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Science. Dr. Dunn has received the college’s Exemplary Teacher of the Year Award three times, in 2003, 2006 and 2008, has served on numerous graduate student committees and is a mentor for student-scientists in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science for Life program at UF.

In addition to his work at the college, Dr. Dunn has also spent the past six years working with the Appalachia Service Project, a Christian volunteer project that takes high school and college students to rural areas of Kentucky and Tennessee to build and repair homes. Dr. Dunn has volunteered the past six spring breaks to work on the project, and has also been on three summer trips.

During his tenure as interim chair, Dr. Dunn hopes to increase NIH grant funding in the department and also aims to fill some of the critical teaching roles left by retiring faculty members.

A native of Pittsburgh, Dr. Dunn graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Thiel College in Greenville, Pa., where he was a member of the honorary biological society Beta Beta Beta. He earned his doctorate in biochemistry at Pennsylvania State University in 1979. He then completed two postdoctoral fellowships, first at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and then at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Before joining the UF faculty in 1987, he was a research associate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine from 1984 to 1986. While there, he trained in a cell biology lab, studying mechanisms of cellular autophagy.