A Change of Pace
Dr. C. Nick Pace, Jean and Tom McMullin Professorship in GeneticsAfter serving on the faculty in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Texas A&M University from 1968 to 1990, Dr. C. Nick Pace was ready for a change of…well, pace. He was considering accepting a lucrative offer from Ohio State University, which meant he would have to leave the Brazos Valley behind. Fortunately, there were two people in his life that had other ideas. First was Dr. Garret Ihler, former Medical Biochemistry and Genetics department head at the A&M College of Medicine. The other was his wife, Sheryl.
“She did NOT want to move away from College Station,” Pace laughs. “So when Dr. Ihler offered me the Jean and Tom McMullin Professorship in Genetics, I decided it sounded like a good opportunity to come work at the medical school and keep my wife happy.”
The McMullin Professorship in Genetics was established in 1986 by Tom and Jean McMullin of Dallas. Mr. McMullin, a 1936 graduate of Texas A&M University, was a very generous supporter of the College of Medicine, having also funded the Jean and Tom McMullin Deanship and a namesake chair in genetics.
Since joining the college in 1990, Pace has been an anchor in the college’s department of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics, where he splits his time between giving lectures to medical students, working in the lab and traveling to speaking engagements. His research focuses on protein folding, which is significant to finding a cure for diseases. Diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow disease and some types of cancers are associated when proteins fail to fold correctly.
Highly accomplished in his field, Pace has published nearly 100 papers, which have been cited by other scientists on more than 5,000 occasions. He also finds time to help others, by mentoring dozens of graduate students and post-docs. Pace has been honored with many prestigious awards, including his selection as a Texas A&M University Regents Professor in 2001 and Health Science Center Distinguished Professor in 2004. In addition, he was awarded The Association of Former Students Faculty Distinguished Achievement Awards for both teaching and research.
Pace is genuinely grateful to the McMullins and their dedication to the College of Medicine by creating the endowed professorship he has held for the last 15 years. Need proof? A photo of the couple hangs over the desk in his office.
“I can honestly say that I would not have come to the college without this professorship,” Pace says. “Endowed gifts make a big difference. They are essential to allow the college to continue to grow and hire great new faculty in the future.”