Cecelia C. Yates, PhD, to Receive 2024 Marilyn G. Farquhar Early Career Award for Exceptional Achievement in the Advancement of Women in Experimental Pathology

Cecelia Yates

April 27, 2023 — The 2024 recipient of the ASIP Marilyn G. Farquhar Early Career Award for Exceptional Achievement in the Advancement of Women in Experimental Pathology is Dr. Cecelia C. Yates, an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Development in the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, McGowen Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh School of Engineering (Pittsburgh, PA).

The Marilyn G. Farquhar Early Career Award for Exceptional Achievement in the Advancement of Women in Experimental Pathology recognizes individuals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in the advancement of women experimental pathologists during the early phases of career (assistant/associate professor or equivalent), including achievements related to training and mentoring women in experimental pathology, leadership within the field of experimental pathology, service to the community in the promotion of science, innovation in the recruitment and retention of women in experimental pathology, and contributions to the Society. This award is named for Dr. Marilyn G. Farquhar who achieved much in her long career as an educator, researcher, and mentor. Among her many achievements, Dr. Farquhar trained numerous women scientists, many of whom went on to exceptional research careers themselves. 

In his letter of nomination, Dr. Andrew Duncan (Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh) described Dr. Yates in terms of her commitment to mentoring and the effectiveness of her style: Dr. Yates’ “…essential and defining characteristics include her commitment to mentoring…undergraduates and graduate students, technicians, postdocs, fellows, and junior faculty…She is an outstanding mentor because she listens, cares, and gives excellent advice. She always seems to know the best action to take now and how to prepare for the future…she is especially interested in helping to support traditionally underrepresented individuals in science, particularly women…”

Dr. Yates attended Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, Alabama), where she earned a B.S. in Biology/Chemistry in 2001 and a Ph.D. in Integrative Biomedical Science and Pathology in 2010 in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Yates did her advanced training in a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Pathology and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (2010-2012). Dr. Cecelia Yates joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh in 2012 and is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion & Development in the School of Nursing and holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Pathology, in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Yates is one of the first experimental pathologists in the country to hold a primary appointment in a school of nursing. She has a continuous track record of innovative research and therapeutic development in the field of tissue repair. 

In her letter of support, Dr. Linda McManus (Professor Emerita, University of Texas Health – San Antonio) described Dr. Yates as “…tirelessly serving as an advisor and/or research mentor to many individuals including undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and junior faculty…providing sage insights that effectively guide her mentees towards well-established goals…”

Dr. Yates’ laboratory has been a resource used by over 30 nurse scientists in learning, training, and collecting data using a cellular and molecular pathology translational approach. Dr. Yates has shown a commitment to innovation and education throughout her career. She has shown a great interest in preparing and educating the next generation of researchers and scientific innovators. Dr. Yates has mentored over 50 scholars, including Junior Faculty, Ph.D. and post-doctoral fellows, residents, nursing, medicine, pharmacy, dental medicine, health and rehabilitation, engineering, pathology scholars, and graduate and undergraduate research students at the University of Pittsburgh and institutions nationally. Dr. Yates participates in the School of Nursing Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program (URMP) to prepare nursing students to become evidence-based healthcare professionals and advocates for their patients. She is the Co-Director of the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Fellowship Program (NIH CTSA-TL1) and mentors pre- and post-doctoral fellows from over eight disciplines. The TL1 program aims to equip researchers with the skills to advance the translation of discoveries into improved patient outcomes and health policy.

Dr. Yates has been an active member of the American Society for Investigative Pathology for the past 14 years. She has worked to help diversify the areas of pathology research ASIP supports and increase trainee and regular membership within these areas. She has focused on developing programs that align with ASIP's mission to advocate for investigative pathology and foster professional career development for its members, specifically women. She was elected chairwoman of the Committee for Career Development, Women, and Minorities, in which she prioritized and supported ASIP’s commitment to experimental pathologists in training through mentoring programs, grant and scientific writing workshops, and career development seminars. Dr. Yates is a long-time member of the ASIP Council – she was the elected Chair of the ASIP Committee for Career Development and Diversity (CCDD) for six years. She was elected Councilor At-large in July 2020 and has served on the ASIP Education Committee, Research and Science Policy, Program, Membership, and Publications Committees. She previously Co-Chaired the ASIP Cell Injury Scientific Interest Group and contributed to the organizing teams of several ASIP scientific meetings. Dr. Yates is the current ASIP representative to the FASEB Excellence in Science Committee and Chair of the Committee for Equal Representation and Opportunity (CERO). Dr. Yates participated in the 2022 ASIP Leadership Academy as a faculty member. Dr. Yates is the recipient of several ASIP awards, including the ASIP Experimental Pathologist-in-Graduate Training Award (2008), ASIP Sobel Trainee Scholar Award (2008, 2009), ASIP Excellence in Science Award (2011), and the ASIP Junior Faculty Scholar Award (2015).

In his letter of support, Dr. Mark Sobel (Executive Officer Emeritus, American Society for Investigative Pathology) noted that Dr. Yates “…is nationally recognized as a dedicated mentor with an emphasis on working towards equality of opportunity for diverse populations…” He went on to describe the impact of her service to the ASIP: “…she Chaired the ASIP Committee for Career Development and participated in initiatives to provide mentorship programs for the Annual Meeting and throughout the year…”

Dr. Yates' research has been supported externally by funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and institutional awards. The research program in Dr. Yates’ laboratory has been very productive. She has published 40 original papers, reviews, and book chapters. She is the co-editor of Fibrosis in Disease: An Organ-based Guide to Disease Pathophysiology and Therapeutic Considerations (Humana Press – Springer, New York, NY). She is a Member of over 10 Editorial Boards and five Study Sections and a Member of 12 Advisory Boards. She has served on 17 University Committees, including being elected chair and co-Chair of the university’s Bylaws committee. She is a core director for the CTSA-Clinical and Translational Science Institute and Director of Tissue Repair and Regeneration Research Project (TR3). In addition, Dr. Yates engages in various entrepreneurial activities related to her research. She is co-founder of several Pittsburgh-based start-up companies, including Ocugenix LLC, a therapeutics company targeting macular degeneration, and FibroKine™ INC, a drug company that develops targeted chemokine peptide treatment for fibrosing diseases. Dr. Yates has formed purposeful partnerships with biotech companies and academic investigators nationally to target the underlying causes of organ fibrosis. In the last ten years, she has submitted 16 invention disclosures to the Innovation Institute, resulting in 11 issued U.S. patents, several international patents, and four work licenses.

Dr. Yates has been recognized for her emerging discoveries and inventions with several University of Pittsburgh Innovator Awardees and as one of three faculty members since 2019 to receive the Emerging Innovator Award 2021 from the University of Pittsburgh. She is also one of 6 faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh elected to the National Academy of Inventors as a senior member. Dr. Yates's other recent awards include the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) 2020 Distinguished Alumnus awardee, recognizing excellence in scholarship, mentorship, and leadership in clinical and translational science. She also recently received the 2022 Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award, one of the highest honors for a faculty member to receive at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Yates’ most recent accomplishments highlight her transformative nature. In collaboration with the innovation institute, she is establishing and will lead the University of Pittsburgh’s first innovation and entrepreneur program for women and minority faculty.

Dr. Yates’ exceptional qualities might best be described by some of her past mentees. Dana Julian (PhD Student, Cellular and Molecular Pathology Program, University of Pittsburgh) described Dr. Yates as “…an incredibly compassionate mentor…a great example of the kind of mentor I strive to be…a tremendous source of interdisciplinary and unconventional perspective…exceptional role model for rising scientists…” Dr. Nakisha Rutledge (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Chicago) noted that Dr. Yates would devote time to mentoring by “…taking time out of her busy schedule to critique each individual slide line-by-line and listen to recorded talks to provide feedback…” She also “…took opportunities to proofread abstracts and manuscripts…” and contributed to Dr. Rutledge’s “…improved time management and confidence engaging with other scientists…” Finally, Dr. Akhil Patel (Senior Research Scientist, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc) described Dr. Yates as “…the most approachable and inclusive professor in my career so far…everyone was heard regardless of their scientific, ethnic, or racial background, and there were no barriers to working toward a common mission…”

Dr. Yates will receive the 2024 ASIP Marilyn G. Farquhar Early Career Award for Exceptional Achievement in the Advancement of Women in Experimental Pathology during the 2024 Annual Meeting of the ASIP in Baltimore, MD (April 2024).