Juanita L. Merchant, MD, PhD, has been appointed as a Regents Professor, a title awarded to full professors who have garnered the most distinguished accomplishments in teaching, scholarship, research or creative work. Dr. Merchant is a professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson. She is also a research member in the Cancer Biology Program with the UArizona Cancer Center.
“I am thrilled, humbled and feel quite honored by this impressive distinction,” said Dr. Merchant, who is a leader in research on the stomach, and is among the most accomplished and celebrated faculty members in the College of Medicine – Tucson. She joined UArizona Health Sciences in 2018 as a professor and chief of gastroenterology and hepatology. She has since added the titles of professor of physiological sciences and associate director of basic science for the Cancer Center.
“I am delighted to join the Arizona Board of Regents in recognizing Dr. Merchant’s pioneering research on the physiology and pathophysiology of stomach cancer,” said Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president for Health Sciences. “Dr. Merchant is not only a distinguished physician-scientist, but also a dedicated teacher and mentor.”
Her research program has been supported for more than 25 years by competitively awarded grants from numerous sources, including the National Institutes of Health. She has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Council of the National Academy of Medicine and the Association of American Physicians. In 2016, Dr. Merchant joined the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one of the 27 Institutes comprising the NIH.
“Working at UArizona Health Sciences has allowed me to form new collaborations that are relevant to the translation of my fundamental research efforts in GI cancers,” said Dr. Merchant. “I have had the pleasure of leading the division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology through a rapid expansion period and I am also playing an important leadership role at the UArizona Cancer Center.”
Dr. Merchant has received the Funderburg Research Award in Gastric Cancer – a top honor in her specialty – as well as the Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science and the Distinguished Mentor Award from the American Gastroenterological Association.
Dr. Merchant earned a doctorate in cell biology and a medical degree in internal medicine from the Yale School of Medicine in 1984. She completed an internship, residency in internal medicine and a clinical/research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and a clinical fellowship in gastroenterology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The title of Regents Professor is reserved for full professors whose exceptional achievements merit national and international distinction. Regents Professor appointments are limited to no more than 3% of the total number of the university's tenured and tenure-track faculty members.