James D. Murray Chair of Applied Mathematics in Neuropathology
The James D. Murray Chair of Applied Mathematics in Neuropathology was established in 2009 to enable the University to recruit and retain distinguished faculty with expertise in applied mathematics and neuropathology. This chair is one of six honorary positions that will help establish a new venture: UW Medicine’s Nancy and Buster Alvord Brain Tumor Center.
This endowment honors an old friend and colleague of Dr. Alvord’s, Dr. James Dickson Murray. Dr. Murray was born in Moffat, Scotland, on January 2, 1931, and graduated with honors from St. Andrew’s University with a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in mathematics in 1956. He became a professor of mathematical biology at the University of Oxford, a fellow and tutor in mathematics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and founding director of Oxford’s Centre for Mathematical Biology.
After coming to Seattle in the 1980s, Dr. Murray became a professor in applied mathematics and an adjunct professor in zoology at the University of Washington. With over 200 papers and a major work, Mathematical Biology (a two-volume text, with multiple editions), his research has been characterized by its great range and its depth in interdisciplinary work focused on realistic, practical mathematical models for biomedical phenomena. Such phenomena include understanding and preventing severe scarring, fingerprint formulation, sex determination, patterns of animal coats, territory formation in interactive wolf/deer populations, HIV dynamics and cancerous growth and invasion. He has trained dozens of graduate students and post-docs and has influenced the whole field, witnessing an increase in attendance at the annual meetings of the Society for Mathematical Biology from 30 participants to more than 800 participants. In fact, his insight into translating the biological definition of cancer into relatively simple mathematical terms inspired the proposal to develop a Center of Excellence in the Theory and Practice of Neuro-oncology.
For many years, the late Dr. Ellsworth C. Alvord, Jr., and his wife, Nancy D. Alvord — and the extended Alvord family — have shown tremendous dedication to UW Medicine. With many gifts made to support research, faculty positions and patient care, the Alvords have made generous investments in the Department of Pathology, Harborview Medical Center and other areas at UW Medicine.
The Alvords’ creation of the James D. Murray Chair of Applied Mathematics in Neuropathology — and their simultaneous creation of another fund, the Alexander M. Spence Chair in Neuro-oncology — laid the groundwork for the establishment of UW Medicine’s Center of Excellence in Neuro-oncology. This center will be dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system tumors, and its faculty will coordinate the efforts of several departments that are involved in patient care and research in neuro-oncology.
As other gifts from the Alvords have done, the development of the James D. Murray Chair of Applied Mathematics in Neuropathology will improve research on the diagnosis and treatment of patients, especially (but not limited to) neurological diseases. The creation of the chair also adds to the Alvords’ already substantial legacy to UW Medicine.
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