News and Awards

Haberecht Wildhare-Idea Research Grant Award – Award Recipients

In April 1994, Rolf R. and Ute S. Haberecht donated funds to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center with the understanding that such funds be used to support academic activities within the Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences under the direction of the Dean. The endowment was designated “The Rolf and Ute Haberecht Deanship of The University of Texas Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, in honor of Olga and Max Haberecht and Anna and Hans Schwarz.”

The Haberechts were interested in research to explore what they termed "wildhare" ideas. A grant was created for support of speculative, innovative research to be administered by the graduate school. Thus, ideas with greater than average risk but great potential for useful outcomes would be the basis for research proposals to be reviewed in competition for these funds. A grant of $10,000 would be awarded for development of the idea.

The first announcement went out in March 1996. Students, postdocs, and junior faculty (Assistant Professor or lower) were eligible to submit a proposal.

Today, the competition is open to students, postdocs, and all levels of faculty at UT Southwestern. A call for proposals is distributed campus wide and selection is based on the judgment of a committee of eminent scientists recruited by Andrew R. Zinn, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of Southwestern Graduate School. The funding period is for one year. A grant of $50,000 is awarded today.

Please join the graduate school in congratulating this year’s recipients:

Gary Hon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Project Title: A Roadmap for Cellular Engineering

Julian Meeks, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Project Title: Major Urinary Proteins as Potential Sequestrants of Chemosensory Steroids

Send an email to learn about the competition.

31st Annual Ida M. Green Award

The Ida M. Green Award developed in 1987 with a bequest from Mrs. Green to Southwestern Medical Foundation. With encouragement and motivation from her husband, Cecil Green, the award was created for acknowledgment of a female graduate student in the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the well-being of other students, to research excellence, and to exceptional community service activities. The honor comes with a monetary award provided by the Women in Science and Medicine Advisory Committee (WISMAC)/Southwestern Medical Foundation.

The award ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. This will be a closed event. Those who attend the award ceremony are guests of the recipient, graduate school faculty and staff, members of WISMAC, representatives of Southwestern Medical Foundation, and of the Cecil Green Estate.

The nominees for the 2017 Ida M. Green Award are:


Graduate Program


Bercin Cenik

Genetics, Development and Disease

Eric Olson, Ph.D.

Christine Ochoa


Craig M. Powell, M.D., Ph.D.

Cyonna Holmes

Biomedical Engineering

Matthias Peltz, M.D.

Didem Agac


David Farrar, Ph.D.

Elisabeth Geyer

Molecular Biophysics

Thomas Wilkie, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Aguilera

Molecular Microbiology

Julie Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

Jessica Hicks

Integrative Biology

David Corey, Ph.D.

Joyce Fung

Molecular Biophysics

Yuh Min Chook, Ph.D.

Kenleigh Roden-Foreman

Clinical Psychology

Betsy Kennard, Psy.D.

Pouriska Kivanany

Biomedical Engineering

Matt Petroll, Ph.D.

Ying Li


Ege Kavalali, Ph.D.

Complete list of Ida M. Green Award Recipients

The announcement of the Winner will be soon.

Email to learn about the competition.

37th Annual Nominata Award

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is pleased to announce Zhejian Ji of the Genetics, Development and Disease Graduate Program as the 2016 recipient of the Nominata Award. The Nominata Award is the highest honor for academic and research accomplishment bestowed by the graduate school unto an advanced graduate student. In addition, Liela Bayeh of the Organic Chemistry Graduate Program is recipient of the Dean’s Discretionary Award, which reflects a student’s extraordinary ability to communicate their science outside of their field.

Zhejian Ji, a member of the Genetics, Development and Disease Graduate Program, is a student in the laboratory of Hongtao Yu in the Department of Pharmacology. The laboratory is interested in mechanisms of mitosis, especially mitotic spindle checkpoint control. Zhejian discovered the fundamental step in the mechanism of signaling in this pathway: that the master checkpoint kinase Mps1 directly competes with microtubules for binding to the kinetochore protein complex Ndc80C. Displacement of Mps1 by microtubules weakens checkpoint signaling and ultimately results in completion of mitosis. This work, recently reported in Science, solves a long-standing mystery and has already made a strong impact in the field.

As an advanced graduate student, Zhejian has demonstrated academic excellence and an exceptional level of research achievement. His accomplishments serve as an outstanding example for all graduate students of UT Southwestern.

Our 2016 Dean’s Discretionary Award recipient, Liela Bayeh, is a member of the Organic Chemistry Graduate Program and a student in the lab of Uttam Tambar. She has been prolific in the lab and has already published seven papers. A problem in the field is the contamination of medically and industrially useful compounds with stereoisomers, many of which have serious side effects for patients. Liela’s research focuses on exploiting the abundance of simple and inexpensive natural products to develop novel mechanisms for synthesis and isolation of compounds with negligible contamination with their isomers. Ultimately these techniques will lead to drugs with much broader therapeutic indices. The awards committee also was impressed by Liela’s ability to communicate her science to a broad range of biomedical researchers.

The Nominata Award was created by the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) in 1980 to stimulate academic excellence and research achievement among the advanced graduate students. The award consisted of a $1,000 prize and a $100 gift certificate from Majors Scientific Book Store. The Scholarship Committee, composed of faculty and student representatives, judged the nominees on academic and research performance. Today, the Committee on Graduate School Awards, comprised of graduate faculty, judges the nominees. The recipient receives a monetary award and is granted the honor of presenting their research to the UT Southwestern community within the forum of the University Lecture Series.

The 2016 Nominata lecture and award presentation will be held Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 4:00 PM in the NB2.EEF Auditorium (NB2.101).

Nominees for the 2016 Nominata Award

Banu Eskiocak Cancer Biology Michael White, Ph.D.
Chensu Wang Biomedical Engineering

Jinming Gao, Ph.D. and Michael White, Ph.D.

Elizabeth McMillan Cell & Molecular Biology Michael White, Ph.D.
Erinn Gideons Neuroscience Lisa Monteggia, Ph.D.
Liela Bayeh* Organic Chemistry Uttam Tambar, Ph.D.
Qian Cong Molecular Biophysics Nick Grishin, Ph.D.
Siheng Xiang Biological Chemistry Steve McKnight, Ph.D.
Tao Wang Integrative Biology

Guanghua Xiao, Ph.D. and Yang Xie, Ph.D.

Vladislav Pokatayev Immunology

Nan Yan, Ph.D.

Yao Wang Molecular Microbiology Julie Pfeiffer, Ph.D.
Zhejian Ji* Genetics, Development and Disease Hongtao Yu, Ph.D.

Please join us in congratulating Zhejian Ji, Liela Bayeh, and our nominees for their dedication and great work.

The recipient receives a monetary award and is granted the honor of presenting their research to the UT Southwestern community within the forum of the University Lecture Series. 
Complete list of Nominata Award Recipients

2016 Graduate School Organization Poster Session

Best of Show
Chien-Der Lee – Integrative Biology, Benjamin Tu, Ph.D.

Top Five
Chien-Der Lee – also received Best of Show
Leonardo Estrada – Immunology, David Farrar, Ph.D.
Chelsea Stamm – Molecular Microbiology, Michael Shiloh, M.D., Ph.D.
Elizabeth Aguilera – Molecular MicrobiologyJulie Pfeiffer, Ph.D.
Huanyu Zhou – Genetics, Development and Disease, Eric Olson, Ph.D.

Honorable Mention
Didem Agac – ImmunologyDavid Farrar, Ph.D.
Ashley Hoover – Immunology, Nicolai van Oers, Ph.D.
Ho Yee Joyce Fung – Molecular Biophysics, Yuh Min Chook, Ph.D.
Zhejian Ji – Genetics, Development and Disease, Hongtao Yu, Ph.D.
Hunkar Gizem Yesilyurt – Neuroscience, Jonathan Terman, Ph.D.