Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Honors Retirements of Ed Moreton and Jia Bei Wang

Careers and accomplishments of longtime professors celebrated at School of Pharmacy celebration.

By Andrew Tie
May 31, 2022

University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) faculty, staff, and colleagues gathered on May 24 to celebrate the retirements of two longtime faculty members in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC): J. Edward Moreton, PhD, and Jia Bei Wang, PhD.

Moreton and Wang, both professors of PSC, will retire this summer after serving on the UMSOP faculty for 48 years and 27 years, respectively.

“It’s so wonderful to celebrate two of our beloved pharmaceutical sciences faculty members on their retirements and to recognize each of them for their countless contributions to the School of Pharmacy,” said Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School in remarks during the joint celebration to honor their careers.

Moreton will retire to Savannah, Ga., while Wang will take some time to decide what to do after UMSOP retirement.

“You’ve both been invaluable to the teaching, service, and research mission of our school,” said Peter Swaan, PhD, distinguished university professor, chair of PSC, and associate dean for research and advanced graduate studies. “You’ve both been pillars of pharmacology and your steadfastness of this discipline as a core topic in the education of our PharmD and PhD students should be a sign that we need additional pharmacology faculty in this school. Ed and Jia Bei, I wish you all the best as you transition to other opportunities and life beyond the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Congratulations!”

UMB has granted both Moreton and Wang the high honor of professor emeritus status in recognition of their significant contributions to the university and the pharmacy profession. They become the 21st and 22nd UMSOP faculty members to receive this honor.

Ed Moreton Leaves Impact in Teaching, Research, and Programs

A native of Alabama, Moreton earned his BSP and PhD in pharmacology from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy. He was a National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) Postdoctoral Fellow in behavioral pharmacology at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA) research associate at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine. He joined the UMSOP faculty in 1974 as an assistant professor of pharmacology and was promoted to full professor in 1988. While on a year sabbatical leave in 1990, he was a National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Senior Research Fellow at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Moreton initially wanted to move to a small, quiet town, but ended up in Baltimore and hasn’t left for nearly five decades.

“I can’t think of a better place in the world to spend half a century than the School with the students, faculty, and staff we have here,” Moreton said. “I never come to work. I just come to the School. That’s the way it should be.”

At UMSOP, Moreton developed a research portfolio focused on drug abuse and dependence as well as stroke and neuroprotective drugs. His work has been published in top-tier pharmacology journals.

“Ed is an outstanding mentor and a passionate teacher as evidenced by the teaching awards he won over the years,” Swaan said. “He is a strong advocate for core knowledge in pharmacology especially as it has been integrated with clinical aspects here. Through his five decades of committed contributions, he has made a tremendous impact on our department, our educational programs, and our School as a whole.”

Moreton served three times as an interim department chair for a total of nine years and was graduate program director in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology before PSC was formed. Moreton was even graduate program director when Dean Eddington applied to the PhD program.

Additionally, Moreton has made great contributions to pharmacy education through the US-Thai Pharmacy Education Consortium, a partnership between schools of pharmacy in the United States and Thailand to advance pharmacy education in both countries growing from nine US school and eight Thai schools in 1994 to 17 US and 19 Thai schools, respectively. Moreton will continue his involvement in this project in retirement.

“Ed’s program in Thailand was one of the first international programs for students on this campus, and this groundbreaking initiative gave confidence to so many others who wanted to create experiences for students that would expose them to different ways of thinking and doing,” said Virginia Rowthorn, JD, LLM, assistant vice president for global engagement and executive director of UMB’s Center for Global Engagement. “Ed’s continuous support and encouragement of global activities – particularly interprofessional projects – is one of the reasons the University of Maryland, Baltimore is a leader in innovative global education today.”

Jia Bei Wang Leads Scientific Advances

Trained as a physician in China, Wang completed her PhD in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at UMSOP in 1992. After completing postdoctoral training in neuropharmacology at Johns Hopkins University, she started her independent research career as a tenure-track investigator at NIDA in 1994.

Wang was recruited back to UMSOP in 1995 and has dedicated her faculty career to research, teaching, mentoring, and service.

“It’s been an amazing 27 years at the School of Pharmacy,” Wang said. “We have such wonderful colleagues here, and we have had wonderful department chairs (throughout my career). They’ve helped and supported me. I’m also so grateful to colleagues I’ve had a chance to work with for a long time.”

Wang’s research accomplishments include discovery of the gene of the mu opioid receptor that provides the principal mechanism for opioids’ analgesic and addictive effects. She subsequently delineated the role of the opioid receptor phosphorylation in mediating the signal transduction and behavioral effect of morphine.

In 2010, she launched an innovative research program of medication development of l-THP for cocaine addiction treatment. She was the principal investigator and sponsor for this drug development project from preclinical pharmacology all the way to investigational new drug approval and clinical trials, including conducting a successful phase I study.

“Jia Bei is a ‘true Marylander’ who dedicated and advanced almost her whole scientific career at UMB over the past 35 years,” Swaan said. “After 27 years of dedicated service as a faculty member she has transformed the department and School by being an outstanding scientist and a wonderful colleague.”

Wang served as PSC’s graduate program director from 2009 to 2011, chaired the department’s pharmacology and neuroscience focus group, chaired UMSOP’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, and served for six years on UMB’s Faculty Senate.

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