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People on the Move: Dec. 29

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People on the Move is a rundown of recent hirings, promotions, appointments and other notable movements by professionals in the state. If you’re interested in submitting an entry, please contact news@delawarebusinesstimes.com.

U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded two Delaware State University researchers a three-year grant, worth nearly $300,000, for a project that could leverage the properties of microalgae toward energy and cancer treatment purposes.

The research is being led by Dr. Ali Parsaeimehr, principal investigator and DSU postdoctoral researcher, and Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay, Co-PI and professor of natural resources and associate dean of cooperative extension.

Dr. Ali Parseimehr and Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSU

The technical title of the project is “A Multiple-Stage Cost Effective Smart Farming of Engineered Microalgae for Simultaneous Production of High-Value Molecules and Bioenergy.”

The research involves converting microalgae into bio-energy/biofuels, and using microalgae to develop a more cost effective alternative for the production of taxol, an anti-cancer pharmaceutical.

“We are working to produce a bio-energy source and to express and isolate high value compounds for the pharmaceutical industry to produce taxol,” Dr. Parsaeimehr said. He added that using microalgae to produce taxol “would reduce the cost and it would grow more bio-mass – meaning we could grow more of it in a shorter amount of time.”

Dr. Ozbay noted that the project provides students with great research experience.

“This project provides opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to involve in innovative research that has strong molecular and technical requirements students can develop their skills on,” Dr. Ozbay said. “These type of experiences and training will make our students more competitive for job market.”

Kate Smith | PHOTO COURTESY OF ACADEMY/DPHA


Kate Smith, MD, MPH, has been named executive director. Dr. Smith started her career with the Academy/Delaware Public Health Association. as the coordinator for the Delaware Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment initiative in 2016. Since then, she has overseen the State’s Immunization Coalition of Delaware program, revitalized the Academy/DPHA’s Student Internship program, and overseen Delaware Mini Medical School. Dr. Smith will also become Delaware’s designated representative to the American Public Health Association’s Governing Council.

Tim Gibbs, MPH, will be the director and principal investigator for the Delaware Health Force program – a public/private partnership between the State of Delaware and the Academy/DPHA focusing on healthcare workforce research and development. Gibbs has been executive director of the Academy/DPHA for sixteen years, and during that time the organization has experienced significant growth and expansion into the field of public health.

Tim Gibbs | PHOTO COURTESY OF ACADEMY/DPHA

“I’m excited to step into such well respected shoes, and will work to grow and expand the Academy/DPHA and our programs. Delaware is a small state, and I look forward to working together with all of the public health and health care institutions to improve the health of all Delawareans,” Dr. Smith said.

“I look forward to Dr. Smith’s leadership and fresh vision for the Academy/DPHA, and to focusing my attention on our health care and public health workforce which was operating under extreme pressure even before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gibbs said.


Beebe Medical Group announced that Clara Higgins, DO, FACOS, has rejoined its medical staff.

Dr. Higgins was in private practice in Lewes from 2002 to 2016 when she established her initial affiliation with Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Staff. During that time, with a focus on general, trauma, and breast surgical care, Dr. Higgins treated more than 16,000 patients in Sussex County.

“After living in Tennessee for six years, I am incredibly grateful to be living and practicing once again in Sussex County – a place that has always been near and dear to my heart,” Dr. Higgins said. “It’s an exciting time to be part of Beebe Healthcare. The organization is committing to continuously growing its programs and services in line with community needs. I am proud to be here, and to have an opportunity to be part of that growth.”

Prior to rejoining Beebe, Dr. Higgins worked at Hawkins County Memorial Hospital in Tennessee, serving as the organization’s only general surgeon. She has also worked in private practice with connections to multiple hospitals in the Philadelphia area and served as Director of Medical Education at Parkview Hospital in Philadelphia.

Dr. Higgins is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she also completed a clinical internship and residency, with concentration on general surgery. She was appointed Chief Surgical Resident for the last year of her training. Dr. Higgins is board certified in osteopathic general surgery and is a Fellow and active member of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons. Additionally, she is a member of the American Osteopathic Association.

In her free time, Dr. Higgins enjoys playing pickleball with her friends and neighbors and working in her garden. She and her wife, Kelli, are parents to two fur babies – their dog, Lucy Lou, and their cat, Ricky Bobby.

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