Mississippi College

Researcher and Professor John Piletz Joins Mississippi College Biology Faculty

August 20, 2013

John Piletz brings decades of solid credentials as a talented scientist, prolific researcher and longtime professor as he joins the faculty at Mississippi College’s Biology Department.

A former professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, the New Hampshire native goes to work on the Clinton campus in late August.

“Dr. Piletz brings a wealth of experience to Mississippi College,” says Beth Dunigan, the department chair. “His students will greatly benefit from his knowledge and experience.”

Dr. Piletz is among dozens of new MC faculty and staff members on board as the Baptist-affiliated university begins its 188th academic year with a convocation on Friday August 23. President Lee Royce will deliver the keynote address at the 10 a.m. program in Swor Auditorium.

Piletz received his bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of New Hampshire in 1974 and his doctorate in developmental biological chemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 1979.

His lengthy list of honors includes his induction into the National Academy of Inventors in 2011. A former chairman of the Health Sciences Division of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, he recently published a major review article in “Drug Discovery Today.”

As a University of Mississippi Medical Center professor for 11 years, the Madison resident researched the neurological under-pinnings of depression and the mechanical action of antidepressants. In 2004, he left UMC for a one-year sabbatical to Beijing Anding Psychiatric Hospital in China where he also developed a heart for missions.

Returning from East Asia, Dr. Piletz joined the Loyola University Strich Medical School of Chicago and turned his focus to coronary artery disease. From 2005-2010 at Loyola, he devoted much of his attention to clinical trials of depressed patients. Today, he serves as a reviewer on the editorial board of the “Journal of Medical Psychology,” and written more than 100 articles appearing in diverse scientific publications.

In addition, he’s well-traveled around the world, speaking at scientific conferences taking him to countries such as Canada, Taiwan, Australia, and Greece as well as seminars in U.S. cities stretching from New York City to San Diego.

In recent months, Mississippi College quickly became a second home to the new biology professor. His wife, Mei-Chi Piletz, a former Jackson State University educator, has served as director of MC’s Office of Global Education since last fall. The Christian university welcomes more than 200 international students from two dozen nations each year.

As a UMC professor in Jackson for more than a decade, Dr. Piletz discovered “the best research technicians in the area were always trained at Mississippi College.” Many MC graduates also enroll as medical and dental students at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The new MC educator traces his love of biology back to his years growing up in New England’s great outdoors from the snow capped mountains to the beaches that dot the Atlantic coast. Along the way, there were numerous summer camping and winter ski trips with his family in New Hampshire.

The first in his family to graduate from college, Piletz took on plenty of part-time jobs to pay for his schooling. One summer, he unloaded box cars of lumber to pay half of his tuition. Another time, he received a paycheck as a movie extra in “A Separate Peace.”

His first research project was on two strains of pigeons that develop heart disease at different rates. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Cincinnati spotlighted gene regulation in milk.

Away from the research labs, Dr. Piletz enjoys tennis, oil paintings and cultural exchanges. He and his wife, Mei-Chi, a native of Taiwan, are the parents of two children who are graduates of the International Studies Program at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Piletz and his wife attend First Baptist Church Madison.

Photo: Researcher John Piletz is a new professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Mississippi College.

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