By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – University of Mississippi Medical Center Physiology Chairman John Hall, co-author of the world’s most-used medical textbook, and who is now tackling the state’s biggest health care problem, has been named professor of the year by the Southeastern Conference.
Hall, director of the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research, received the honor Wednesday afternoon from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive’s office during an event at the Institutions of Higher Learning office in Jackson.
Torie Johnson, who made the presentation on behalf of the SEC, said, Hall’s “work in the area of obesity prevention has and will continue to save lives in Mississippi, in the Southeastern Conference, and we believe around the world.”
Hall cited obesity as the biggest health care problem facing the state and said the Center for Obesity Research was trying to bring together research and treatment to tackle the problem.
Gov. Phil Bryant, who has been dealing with the multiple storms that pummeled the state earlier this week, took time to attend the event and praised Hall. Bryant said they have been members of the same church in Rankin County for years.
“He is a perfect example of the excellence and innovation found in Mississippi,” the governor said. “He has touched countless lives in the classroom and through his research.”
Hall came to Mississippi almost 40 years ago after receiving a doctorate in physiology from Michigan State University. He became co-author with former UMMC Physiology Chairman Authur Guyton of the Textbook of Medical Physiology. It has continued to be updated and is the most popular medical textbook in the world, according to James Keeton, dean of UMMC.
Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones, who previously served as dean of the Medical School and who nominated Hall for the honor, said the University of Mississippi professor was selected from among the 50,000 faculty members at the 14 SEC schools. Hall is the third professor of the year honored by the SEC. It is considered the conference’s highest academic honor. Hall will receive a $20,000 honorarium and be recognized at the conference’s spring meeting.
Jones said the SEC is not only a great athletic conference, but also an outstanding academic conference. Bryant joked that if a Mississippi athlete was honored as player of the year in the SEC, “we would get bumper stickers made. We should get bumper stickers saying ‘we support John.’”
Hall’s work in cardiovascular disease and other areas has been funded by the National Health, Lung and Blood Institute since 1975, and since 1988 he has been director of the National Institute of Health Program Project. His research has resulted in about $50 million of outside funding for the university.
“I think this is important to me because it does signify that the Southeastern Conference really values academics and scholarship. This is a tribute not to me so much, but the university – that we have a good team here of cardiovascular researchers and many folks who work together,” he said.
College Board President Aubrey Patterson of Tupelo, said, “It is a remarkable and delightful occurrence to honor someone as distinguished as Dr. Hall.”
Hall has written more than 530 academic publications. Keeton said, like Guyton, his predecessor as chairman of Physiology, “he is the most famous person on our campus.”
Keeton cited as an example of his influence that more than 30 of chairs of physiology at the nation’s 141 medical schools, are graduates of UMMC – by far the most in the nation.