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Ronald J. Sokol Earns Distinction of Distinguished Professor

Sokol is the only faculty member from CU Anschutz in this year’s illustrious roster

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Written by Wendy Meyer on December 7, 2022

Ronald J. Sokol, MD has been named a University of Colorado Distinguished Professor. Distinguished Professor is a title signifying the highest honor awarded to faculty across the CU system’s four campuses. CU Distinguished Professors are tenured faculty members who demonstrate exemplary performance in research or creative work; a record of excellence in promoting learning and student attainment of knowledge and skills; and outstanding service to the profession, the university and its affiliates.

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Ronald J. Sokol, MD

Dr. Sokol is one of 136 CU faculty members among the four campuses to have earned this distinction since its inception in 1977. This year’s honorees will be formally recognized during a board meeting in spring 2023. Dr. Sokol is the only professor in this cohort from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He has been making important and pathbreaking contributions to the university since 1979 when he joined CU as an instructor in pediatrics. Today he is Chief Scientific Officer, professor of pediatrics and director of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI).

An expert in pediatric liver disease and pediatric liver transplantation at the Digestive Health Institute and in the section of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Sokol is an accomplished clinician, researcher, mentor, administrator, advocate and leader. His funded research boasts 40 grants, 14 of which are NIH awards valued at over $20 million.  

“This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Sokol whose contributions to the university and our community have been distinguished in research, clinical care, mentorship and administrative leadership,” says Janine Higgins, PhD, vice chair for research, Department of Medicine and director of operations, CCTSI.

Sokol directed the Digestive Health Institute from 2006 to 2022, a clinical care program at Children’s Hospital Colorado ranked No. 1 in the country by U.S. News and World Report in 2020 and 2021. His work also has led to the creation of the CCTSI, which he has directed since 2008.

A National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded investigator since 1986, Sokol has received more than $200 million in grant support to date. He was responsible for CU Anschutz Medical Campus receiving the largest biomedical research and training grant from the NIH in the state’s history -- $76 million in 2008, which founded the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI). That grant was renewed in 2013 and again in 2018 when it received a five-year renewal with $46.5 million in NIH support. As of 2018, total funding from the NIH to the CCTSI exceeds $187 million. Sokol continues to lead the CCTSI as Director and Principal Investigator.

His prolific contributions to the literature include:

  • 282 peer reviewed publications, cited a total of 23,306 times
  • 3 books as editor
  • 126 book chapters

He has continuously advanced the university’s missions of scholarly work, education and service. He has mentored many scientists and clinicians who have gone on to lead successful independent careers, published prolifically in his field of expertise, given hundreds of invited lectures globally that have enhanced the recognition and reputation of CU Anschutz as a leader in the field of infant and childhood liver disease, acted as a transformational leader at CU Anschutz and Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Higgins continued, “Dr. Sokol has shown continuous, unwavering commitment to the institution through his leadership and teaching and research roles. He has 277 papers that have been cited over 10 times (160 in the last five years). These numbers are extremely high, comparable to Nobel Prize Laureates, according to a recent article (Am J Clin Pathol 2019;151:286-91).”

Photo at top: Dr. Ron Sokol’s CCTSI Town Hall was filled to capacity in 2019.

Topics: Kudos, CCTSI