Dr. Wendy Bollag, a longtime Medical College of Georgia faculty member, federally funded investigator and honored educator, has been named Regents’ professor of physiology by the University System of Georgia.
Regents’ professorships are awarded to system faculty whose scholarship or creative activity is recognized both nationally and internationally as innovative and pacesetting.
Bollag, a cell physiologist and skin researcher who joined MCG in 1993, studies the mechanisms by which hormones, growth factors, cytokines and other signaling molecules instruct cells to respond appropriately to perform their basic functions. Nearly 20 years ago, she was among the first to report in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology that glycerin, a natural alcohol and water attractor known to help the skin look better, also safely helped it function better by helping skin cells mature properly. Her work has helped delineate glycerin’s conversion to the lipid, or fat, phosphatidylglycerol, which ultimately regulates the function of keratinocytes, our major skin cell type, and suppresses inflammation in the skin.
Bollag’s work is supported by a US Department of Veterans Affairs Research Career Scientist Award, given to established, non-clinician independent investigators with demonstrated research support.
She is the principal investigator on a $1.2 million Veterans Affairs Merit Award aimed at defining the role of lipid signaling systems in corneal wound healing; and a co-principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health RO1 grant investigating how phosphatidylglycerol may be a new therapy for corneal injuries.
She also is co-principal investigator on a NIH T35 grant called the “Program for Aging Research in the Summer or PARIS,” which aims to encourage more medical students to consider a career in aging research and clinical care by spending the summer between their first and second years of medical school living on campus and learning with researchers at the Medical College of Georgia.
Since 2015, Bollag has published 42 original manuscripts and 14 book chapters or reviews. Over her career, she has served as a full-time or ad hoc reviewer on over 50 study sections and review groups for the NIH, VA, American Heart Association and other funding organizations.
She has mentored dozens of undergraduate and graduate medical students, served as co-director or director of 30 different courses and currently serves as the director of the Augusta University Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and the research director of the university’s Adrenal Center, a collaborative clinical and research effort by several departments which provides comprehensive and timely care to patients with diseases of the adrenal gland.
An honored educator, she received MCG’s Exemplary Teaching Award, given by the medical school’s Office for Faculty & Continuous Professional Development to faculty based on quantity of teaching and student evaluations, in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2021. She also received The Graduate School at AU’s Outstanding Faculty Award earlier this year. A former president and senator on the medical school’s Faculty Senate who has dedicated herself to institutional service, she received the medical school’s Institutional Service Award in 2018.
“Dr. Bollag is an outstanding faculty member who excels as a scientist, educator, mentor and institutional citizen,” Dr. David Mattson, chair of the MCG Department of Physiology wrote in nominating Bollag. “She is an individual who I seek out when I am in need of help or advice. It is apparent that she is a true academic scientist who values her role as an institutional leader.”
Bollag earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University and her PhD in cellular and molecular physiology from Yale University.