April 14, 2022 — When asked what he would focus on if he could do anything other than his current work as a prominent brain metabolism scientist, Matthew S. Gentry, Ph.D., didn’t hesitate.
“That’s easy; My No. 1 choice is center fielder for the New York Mets,” he said with a deliberate chuckle. “But seriously, I think I’d be working in some realm of politics or advocacy.”
Gentry, who was recently named by College of Medicine Dean Colleen Koch, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., to serve as the next chair of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, has plenty of experience in public advocacy work and meeting with members of Congress to highlight the importance of basic research.
As a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for 14 years, and having served as the chair of its Public Affairs Advisory Committee from 2017-2019, Gentry has long been involved in helping influence public policy and political engagement around education and research activities within the life sciences.
“Life science research is invaluable to our society,” he said. “It’s important to engage with the policymakers and advocate for biomedical science funding — to make sure researchers’ voices are heard by those who make federal funding decisions.”
Gentry, who will begin his new role at UF on Aug. 22, is currently the Antonio S. Turco Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, where he is also director of the Brain & Epilepsy Alliance for Metabolism, or BEAM, Research and the Lafora Epilepsy Cure Initiative Center, a program funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Gentry’s laboratory is investigating and defining metabolic perturbations in neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsy, cancer, glycogen storage diseases and Toxoplasma gondii infection. He has been continuously funded by the NIH since 2007, when he was among the first to receive the NIH Pathway to Independence Award, and his lab currently receives funding from an NINDS R35, NINDS P01 and NCI R01. He also has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation since receiving an NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program, or CAREER, award in 2013. In addition, his lab receives funding from the CURE Epilepsy Foundation and industry-sponsored projects.