John and Kathy Solaro Endowed Graduate Fellowship

R. John and Kathy Solaro, PhD
Dr. R. John and Kathy Solaro

R. John Solaro served as Head of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine from 1988 to 2015 and continues as Professor. Solaro was appointed Distinguished University Professor in the University of Illinois System in 1998.

John moved to UIC from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He trained for the PhD in the Department of Physiology, at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and in 1971 immediately moved to a faculty position at the Medical College of Virginia. His undergraduate degree is in Pharmacy from the University of Cincinnati. In 1975-76 he was a Fellow of the American and British Heart Associations and worked with Professor S. V. Perry in Birmingham, England. In 1987 he was a Fogarty Fellow working with Professor David Allen at University College London. He is past director and founder of the UIC Center for Cardiovascular Research. At UIC, Solaro received the University Scholar Award, the Faculty of the Year Award, the Mentor of the Year Award, and the Distinguished Service Award. Solaro was a member of the NIH Physiology study section, and is past Chair of the Skeletal Muscle and Exercise Physiology and the Cardiovascular Sciences study sections. He has served on editorial boards of leading biochemical, clinical and cardiovascular journals and as Associate Editor and Editor-in-Chief (2017-2019) of the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Solaro has 387 peer reviewed publications on studies of the molecular, cellular and integrative physiology of the dynamics of the heartbeat with emphasis on developing therapies for acquired and genetic heart disorders. He been continually funded by National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association since 1974. He continues to be a consultant to Biotech and Pharma related to the development of therapies for cardiac disorders.

After training as a registered nurse at the University of Cincinnati and Christ Hospital, Kathleen Solaro trained at the Medical College of Virginia as a Nurse Practitioner. Kathy had a 20+ year career as a Nurse Practitioner in Women's Health. Since retiring she has served as volunteer with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in their community outreach programs.

When John was named Head of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at UIC, Kathy became engaged in interactions with faculty partners and with faculty, many of whom were women. Kathy took the lead in hosting events associated with faculty retreats in the Solaro home and with trainees in the Solaro labs. Kathy was at John's side in virtually every social and award event in the department and developed a long-standing friendship with the Lambrecht family, who are supporters of graduate students in the department. In view of these long standing and close relations with the department, John and Kathy agreed that it was important to do something tangible to demonstrate appreciation for all the good things that have come their way at UIC. Having experienced the challenges of being in graduate school, while Kathy was a stay at home mom with two babies, It took little planning for John and Kathy to decide that endowing a graduate fellowship would be their choice for supporting and helping the career path of budding scientists.

John and Kathy are the parents of Christopher Solaro (MD, PhD Washington University School of Medicine, BSc Bioengineering, Northwestern University) and Elizabeth Solaro (BA, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern). John and Kathy have 5 grandchildren.

John and Kathy Solaro Endowed Graduate Fellowship

  • 2022 - Tung Nguyen
Tung Nguyen, PhD Candidate

Tung Nguyen is currently a fourth-year GEMS student in the lab of Dr. Monica Lee in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. He is interested in the progression of vascular endothelial inflammation and its role in exacerbating the development of cardiovascular disease. As such, his current research focus is to identify novel effectors to better understand endothelial cell dysfunction and vascular disease pathogenesis. He served as GEMS Research Symposium Chair for 2021-2022 and is an active instructor for the Department's SPP Physiology lectures.

  • 2021 - Fred Lee
Fred Lee, PhD Candidate

Fred Lee is currently a third-year MD-PhD student in the lab of Dr. Alexandra Naba in the department of Physiology and Biophysics. He is interested in the extracellular matrix and its impact on tumor metastatic potential as well as many other pathological progressions. He served on MSTP's Student Advisory Committee as a member and the 2019-2020 president.

  • 2020 - Kristen Lednovich
Kristen Lednovich, PhD Candidate

Kristen Lednovich is currently a fourth-year GEMS student in the lab of Dr. Brian Layden in the Division of Endocrinology, an affiliated faculty of the Physiology and Biophysics department. Her research interests center on unraveling the complex relationship between diet, the gut microbiome, and human metabolism for the purpose of developing novel treatments for metabolic disorders. She is founding member of the Physio Friday planning committee, GEMS Symposium planning committee, Vice President of GEMSSA, and an active member of the Chicago Chapter of Women in Science.