The College of Science announces that Professor Kasturi Haldar, the Rev. Julius Nieuwland Professor of Biological Sciences, will step aside as Parsons–Quinn Director of the Boler–Parseghian Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases effective May 12, 2022. She will remain a tenured faculty member of the Department of Biological Sciences. The College of Science thanks Professor Haldar for more than 13 years of service to the University and the Boler–Parseghian Center.
There are over 6,000 rare diseases affecting about 300 million people worldwide. The diversity and complexity of rare diseases results in severe disparities in scientific knowledge, clinical expertise, and availability for diagnoses and treatments for patients. Researchers at the Boler–Parseghian Center collaborate across many disciplines, but the main focus is molecular biomedicine with a spotlight on critical targets and translation to treatments.
Under Professor Haldar’s leadership the Boler–Parseghian Center established an annual conference at Notre Dame in conjunction with Rare Disease Day that unites students, patients, and other key stakeholders in the rare disease community. She also established a center-wide pilot funding research program to assess the feasibility of novel approaches or hypotheses to be used in larger scale studies. Thanks to this program, Notre Dame research in rare diseases has expanded from one rare neurological disease in 2008 to 12 different rare genetic diseases in 2021. During her tenure, the Boler–Parseghian Center notably initiated successful new preclinical research programs focused on rare diseases such as Von Hippel-Lindau, Kabuki Syndrome, and Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia, among others.
Interim leadership of the Boler–Parseghian Center will be shared between Santiago Schnell, the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science, and Jason Rohr, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. Schnell will oversee research pertaining to rare diseases, and Rohr will oversee research pertaining to neglected diseases. Schnell, an internationally recognized expert in quantitative biology and the former chair of the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, was appointed dean in 2021. Rohr, with research interests at the intersection of applied ecology and public health, with a particular focus on aquaculture solutions to solve world hunger and control schistosomiasis, joined the Department of Biological Sciences in 2019 and was appointed chair of the department in 2020.
The College of Science will conduct a comprehensive search for the new director and will immediately establish a faculty committee to lead this search.