Office of Sponsored Research

Faculty Highlights

Valerie Haftel

Belinda White Associate Professor, Department of Biology


Valerie K. Haftel, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the Neuroscience Program at Morehouse.  She obtained a Postdoctoral Fellowship (Fellowship in Research and Science Teaching) at Emory University, where she also took her Ph.D. in Physiology.   She earned a Master of Science in Physiology from Hahnemann (now Drexel) University, and a BS in Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Education from Bucknell University . 

She coordinates and teaches the introductory lecture and laboratory courses for Biology majors (General Biology 111 and 112), and the elective Neurobiology (317) course, employing active learning pedagogical techniques in the classroom as a means to make learning more interactive and student-centered.  She is involved in an ongoing project via the Summer Instructional Design Workshop to redesign a GBio course using this student-centered approach, and evaluate the efficacy of that design.

Dr. Haftel’s professional and personal aim was to return to the small, liberal arts school setting so that she could spend quality time interacting with students to directly impact their personal and professional growth, and help students realize their goals.  Since mentoring is one of the most meaningful parts of her career, she helped begin a Junior Faculty mentoring committee upon beginning her tenure at Morehouse, and volunteers her time to be a teaching mentor to several FIRST Fellows, graduate students at Emory through the Laney Graduate School Mentoring Program, her undergraduate laboratory research students, students in her classes, and her advisees, both formally and informally.  She was recently nominated by Morehouse Graduate Michael Harrell, (’10), and received the Student National Medical Association’s award for Diversity in Medicine: Excellence in Pre-Medical Education at the 2012 American Medical Education Conference in Atlanta.

Recognizing the dilemma we face in this country with diabetes, with a disproportionate number of minorities affected, and considering her training in Neurophysiology, Dr. Haftel chose to focus her research on the effects diabetes has on the nervous system.  Diabetes, whether controlled or not, will result in 60-70% of patients having nervous system complications that may be life-threatening.  At any given time, there are 4-5 undergraduate researchers working on fulfilling goals of Dr. Haftel’s NIH-supported project using behavioral, immunohistochemical, electrophysiological and nanotechnology techniques to determine the time course, and potential therapeutic regimens to treat diabetic neuropathy.  Her students (supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant in the Division of Science and Mathematics) will present their findings from this project at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in the Fall of 2012, and the on-campus Mapp Symposium next Spring, and submit their work for publication.

Involved in the Faculty Welfare Committee, and newly elected to the Faculty Council and Faculty Development Committee, Dr. Haftel strives  to make interactions between faculty and administration, staff and students more efficacious.

To support her research and academic program interests, Dr. Haftel has been successful in securing funding for many of the projects described above, totaling over $2.1 million from the NIH, the HHMI, the Department of Education and GeorgiaTech.  She continues to seek funding to support her research in applications to the UNCF, the HHMI, and the NIH, and talented students to help find the answers!