Dr. Max Summers Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Max Summers holding award with Dr. David Ragsdale

Dr. Max Summers, left, with Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale. Photo by Rob Williams.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas—The Department of Entomology honored Dr. Max Summers with the Department of Entomology Lifetime Recognition award during the January regular faculty meeting.

Summers is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus and former holder of the Endowed Chair in Agricultural Biotechnology. Summers promoted inquiry-driven and knowledge-based research that generated more than $40 million in grants and patent income and over 375 scholarly publications in quality, high impact peer-reviewed journals.

Together with his former student, Gale Smith, Summers was responsible for the pioneering and enabling research that developed the baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS). BEVS has been routinely used in agricultural and medical research for basic research, gene discovery and for the commercial development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Among its numerous impacts on society, BEVS has been used in the development of vaccines for the prevention of several human cancers, thus saving hundreds of thousands of lives a year.

In subsequent research, Summers demonstrated that mutations of integral proteins within the inner nuclear membrane may result in diseases associated with muscular and lipid dystrophies. This research not only generated new mechanistic theories for membrane protein trafficking and targeting to the eukaryotic cell inner nuclear membrane; but also a variety of possible applications for agriculture, human health, and medicine. These include novel pathobiological insights to a number of important diseases and knowledge basic to new approaches for insect pest control.

Rebecca Hapes, left, receiving her pin from Dr. David Ragsdale

Rebecca Hapes, left, receiving her pin from Dr. David Ragsdale. Photo by Rob Williams.

In 2001, he was listed as one of the top 250 most highly cited microbiologists in the world: Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Most Highly Cited. His research was collaborative and multidisciplinary while simultaneously garnering extensive international recognition from his peers. Summers significantly advanced the field of molecular cell biology and his research results have generated tremendous benefit to the global community through the development and distribution of human and animal pharmaceuticals.

Summers is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Patricia Pietrantonio, left, receiving her pin from Dr. David Ragsdale. Photo by Rob Williams.

Patricia Pietrantonio, left, receiving her pin from Dr. David Ragsdale. Photo by Rob Williams.

He also was president of the American Society for Virology, chair of Class VI of the National Academy of Sciences, and named Inventor of the Year by the Houston Intellectual Property Law Association.

Summers served on various boards including the Entomological Society of American Foundation Board of Councilors, and the Texas Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and was editor of Virology, and executive editor of Protein Expression and Purification. He was a Foundation for Microbiology Lecturer of the American Society for Microbiology and received the first Distinguished Alumni Award from the Purdue University School of Agriculture in 1992.

Robert Jensen with Dr. David Ragsdale. Photo by Rob Williams.

Robert Jensen, left, with Dr. David Ragsdale. Photo by Rob Williams.

He also has served on the U.S. Department of Commerce Biotechnology Technical Advisory Committee, the National Academy of Sciences Council of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable, and the Chiron Corporation Biotechnology Research Award Nominating Committee. He was a panelist of the Accountability and Federally Funded Research Panel, a subcommittee of the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy on Government Performance and Results Act.

Summers received an A.B. degree in biology in 1962 from Wilmington College and a PhD in entomology from Purdue University in 1968. Dr. Summers was an Assistant and an Associate Professor of Botany at the University of Texas before moving to Texas A&M as a Professor of Entomology in 1977. He retired in 2011.

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement presentation, Rebecca Hapes and Dr. Patricia Pietrantonio received pins for 20 years of service and Robert Jensen and Felicita Anzualda received pins for 30 years of service.

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