May 30, 2013

Professor awarded Fulbright scholarship to do research in United Kingdom

The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board have announced that Steven M. Yellon, PhD, professor of basic sciences and gynecology & obstetrics in the LLU School of Medicine, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant.

Dr. Yellon will do research at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute’s Center for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, United Kingdom, during the 2013–2014 academic year. Fulbright scholar awards to the United Kingdom in the All Disciplines category are among the most competitive for applicants.

Dr. Yellon hopes the research may lead to knowledge that could someday reduce premature births and other complications of labor. 

“An alarming increase in preterm births and difficulties with labor require medical interventions in more than 40 percent of births in the United States and other developed countries, and the problem is of even greater concern in developing nations,” he says.

Dr. Yellon’s research will specifically center on changes in the cervix that can advance or impede the birth process. He will collaborate with Professor Jane E. Norman, MD, director of the Tommy’s Centre for Maternal and Fetal Research, in basic and translational studies of the inflammatory mechanism that remodels the cervix during pregnancy.

Dr. Yellon is one of only about 25 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel to the United Kingdom as Fulbright scholars, and his award is also a rare distinction among faculty members throughout Loma Linda University’s 108-year history.

Besides the direct findings of his research next year, Dr. Yellon believes that the exchange year will result in lasting benefits to students of Loma Linda University and the University of Edinburgh.

“I hope to build a network of understanding among world-class basic and clinical researchers and their trainees,” he says, “as well as to serve the mission of LLU by representing the highest qualities of scholarship during my time at the University of Edinburgh. 

“It is my goal,” he adds, “to bring back insights about research infrastructure, medical education, and clinical programs to further my contribution to the academic environment at LLU.”

Specifically, he hopes the collaboration with British researchers will advance Loma Linda University goals that include starting a maternal/fetal medicine research fellowship, establishing a tissue bank for research at the Perinatal Institute, and developing a research division in the LLU Center for Perinatal Biology.

Dr. Yellon sees the year ahead as a cross-cultural pollination of varied academic traditions.

Such exchange is the mission of the Fulbright Program, which is designed to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries while contributing to solutions to shared international concerns. In addition to this, Dr. Yellon hopes to be an ambassador of Loma Linda University’s values and mission.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 310,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists this opportunity.