BURLINGTON, VT – The University of Vermont College of Medicine presented a 2012 Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award to James Aiken, Ph.D.’70 (DA ’61), president and chief executive officer of Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, at an awards ceremony held during the College’s Graduate Student Research Day on September 20, 2012.
The Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award is presented to alumni from the College of Medicine’s Ph.D. or M.S. programs who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in basic, clinical or applied research; education; industry; public service/humanitarianism; and/or outstanding commitment to the College of Medicine community.
As a 2012 awardee, Aiken presented a lecture on “The Value of Scientific Conferences” during the Research Day event, which also featured student research poster and oral presentation sessions.
Born in Burlington, Vt., Aiken graduated from Deerfield Academy in 1961 and received an undergraduate degree in biology from Dartmouth College and Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Vermont in 1970, and completed an American Thoracic Society fellowship working in the laboratory of Professor Sir John Vane, Nobel Laureate, at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Aiken leads Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, a 40-year-old, educational nonprofit organization based in Silverthorne, Colo., that annually conducts 50 to 60 biomedical conferences attended by about 14,000 scientists. Prior to his work with Keystone Symposia, he had a 32-year-long distinguished career as a research scientist and research executive in the pharmaceutical industry. Aiken served as senior director of therapeutic area strategy for Pharmacia Corporation in Peapack, N.J., until the company was acquired by Pfizer in 2003. Prior to that position, he served as director of biology for the Swedish branches of Pharmacia & Upjohn, director of metabolic diseases research for the Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, Mich., and held various additional research positions at Upjohn in the areas of atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and diabetes. Aiken also conducted research in the field of smooth muscle function, as it relates to vascular biology and hypertension, as well as uterine physiology and parturition, at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, Ind.
The recipient of numerous honors including a 1998 Graduate College Alumni Scholar Award from UVM, Aiken has served on committees influencing research direction. He was a long-term member of the Pharmacology Advisory Committee of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhARMA) Foundation; a former member of the board of directors and committees of the Michigan Affiliate of the American Heart Association; a member of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research Boards for Cardiovascular Diseases and Biopolymers and Biocompatible Materials. In addition, Aiken was an adjunct professor of pharmacology at Michigan State University and adjunct assistant professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. Currently, he serves on the board of directors of the Global Food Protection Institute.
Aiken resides in Breckenridge, Colo.