Newsmakers – October 2013

Flores to serve on American Pediatric Society council

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Dr. Glenn Flores, Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Sciences, has been elected to the Council for the American Pediatric Society (APS). As a member, he will serve a five-year term starting this year. Council members are responsible for membership selection, strategic plan implementation, policy setting, and planning the Pediatric Academic Society’s annual meeting. Dr. Flores, who holds the Judith and Charles Ginsburg Chair in Pediatrics, is a national expert on health care issues affecting children. His research interests include community-based interventions for improving the health of and providing health care for underserved children, and racial/ethnic disparities in children’s health and health care. Dr. Flores earned his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. The APS’ goal is to advance academic pediatrics by promoting research and scholarship and serving as a strong and effective advocate for academic pediatrics. The organization also focuses on honoring achievement and cultivating excellence, diversity, and equity in pediatrics through advocacy, scholarship, education, and leadership development.

Hofmann’s investigations of childhood disease earn 2014 Avanti Award in Lipids

Dr. Sandra Hofmann, Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics, has received the 2014 Avanti Award in Lipids from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). The award was given in recognition of Dr. Hofmann’s research involving infantile Batten disease, a rare neurological disorder in which children at about 18 months of age lose any previously attained milestones, develop seizures and blindness, become comatose, and eventually die. Dr. Hofmann’s pioneering work on the metabolism of proteins that are modified by lipids has led to a greater understanding of infantile Batten disease and a simple test to identify it. The next goal is to develop a therapy, Dr. Hofmann said. The Avanti Award in Lipids includes a plaque, a cash prize, and presentation of a lecture at the April 2014 ASBMB annual meeting. “I am happy to be recognized for this research because I believe that lipid modification of proteins is an exciting field and that many new discoveries will continue to arise out of this line of investigation,” she said. “The award also highlights how basic research aimed at fundamental questions can eventually be brought to bear on health problems in unanticipated ways.” A faculty member since 1986, Dr. Hofmann earned both medical and doctorate degrees at Washington University in St. Louis.

Johnson to lead American Board of Internal Medicine

Dr. David H. Johnson, Chairman of Internal Medicine, has been named Chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Board of Directors. Dr. Johnson, a noted expert on lung cancer, will serve a two-year term. The ABIM sets the standards and certifies physicians practicing in internal medicine and its subspecialties. Dr. Johnson becomes Chair of the board as it is redefining its governance structure. The board oversees ABIM’s strategic direction and supports efforts to make the certification credential relevant and valuable to participating internists and the broader health care community. The board is comprised of physicians who are board certified in internal medicine or one of its subspecialties and who actively participate in maintenance of certification. Dr. Johnson, who holds the Donald W. Seldin Distinguished Chair in Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern, is certified in both internal medicine and medical oncology. Previously, he served on the ABIM Subspecialty Board on Medical Oncology from 2001 to 2011, serving as Chair from 2007 to 2011.

Regional chamber selects administrator for Leadership Dallas

Frank Grassler, Vice President for Technology Development at UT Southwestern, has been selected as a member of the 2014 Leadership Dallas class by the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce. At UT Southwestern, Mr. Grassler leads the Office of Technology Development as well as BioCenter at Southwestern Medical District. BioCenter is the university’s commercial biomedical campus and encourages the development and commercialization of university-created technologies. “Each of the individuals joining the class has demonstrated a strong dedication to supporting the communities where they live and work, and a wide range of businesses, industries, and experiences are represented,” Jim Oberwetter, president and CEO of the chamber, said about the 39th Leadership Dallas class members. Mr. Grassler, who joined the medical center in January, previously has worked in leadership positions at Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, and Merck. He earned degrees in pharmacy and law from the University of Colorado and did additional coursework in mechanical engineering, materials science, and immunology at the University of Colorado, Denver.

Health Professions faculty member cited for paper on spinal-cord injuries

Dr. Chung-Yi Chiu, Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling in the UT Southwestern School of Health Professions, has won the 2013 American Rehabilitation Counseling Association’s (ARCA) Research Award for an article she co-wrote titled “Predictive Ability of Pender’s Health Promotion Model for Physical Activity and Exercise in People with Spinal Cord Injuries: A Hierarchical Regression Analysis.” It was Dr. Chiu’s second time to win the ARCA Research Award. Dr. Chiu, who joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2009, studied at National Taiwan University and earned her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Radiation oncologist recognized nationally with Educator of Year Award

Dr. Asal Shoushtari Rahimi, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, was among 56 educators recognized by the Association for Residents in Radiation Oncology with the 2013 ARRO Educator of the Year Award.“This award is a real honor, as I strongly believe our residents and students are our future,” said Dr. Rahimi, who joined the faculty in 2011. The Educator of the Year Award recognizes outstanding teachers and mentors of radiation oncology residents. Each radiation oncology residency program may nominate one faculty member for the award. “We congratulate these educators for providing exceptional support, guidance, and expertise to their residents,” Dr. Aparna H. Kesarwala, Chairman of the ARRO Executive Committee, said in announcing the awards.

Skapek named holder of Pediatric Oncology Distinguished Chair

Dr. Stephen Skapek, director of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Professor of Pediatrics, has been named holder of the Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Oncology Research. Dr. Skapek has an appointment in the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and leads the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Dr. Skapek joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2011 from the University of Chicago. He previously worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the University of Tennessee. Dr. Skapek received his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in 1988 before completing a pediatrics residency at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio. Dr. Skapek served a pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship in 1994 at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His clinical specialties include childhood cancers, childhood blood diseases, and rhabdomyosarcomas.

Pulmonary disease investigator Garcia named to Wildenthal Professorship

Dr. Christine Kim Garcia, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth & Development, has been named holder of the Kern and Marnie Wildenthal President’s Research Council Professorship in Medical Science. Dr. Garcia earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Texas A&M University and her combined M.D./Ph.D. degree from UT Southwestern, where she completed her graduate research training in the laboratory of Nobel Laureates Drs. Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the molecular genetics laboratory of Dr. Helen Hobbs before joining the faculty of UT Southwestern in 2005. Her laboratory focuses on defining the genetic determinants of adult-onset pulmonary disease.

Sherry’s groundbreaking imaging work receives international recognition

Dr. Dean Sherry, Director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern, has been awarded a Gold Medal from the World Molecular Imaging Society. The award cites Dr. Sherry for pioneering work in chelate chemistry, the development of novel probes, and the establishment of a new class of MRI contrast agents based on CEST (chemical exchange saturation transfer) for potential applications in diagnostic imaging. Dr. Sherry is Professor of Radiology at UT Southwestern, Professor of Chemistry at UT Dallas, and holds the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology at UT Dallas. Dr. Sherry earned his doctorate degree from Kansas State University. He received the award on Sept. 18 at the 6th annual World Molecular Imaging Congress in Savannah, Ga.

Radiation oncologist Story to hold Pistenmaa Distinguished Chair

Dr. Michael D. Story, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, has been named holder of the David A. Pistenmaa, M.D., Ph.D., Distinguished Chair in Radiation Oncology. His research is focused on the underlying genetics and biochemical mechanisms that govern the response of cells and tissues to radiation and drug sensitivity during cancer therapy. Of particular interest is the intrinsic sensitivity to cancer therapy agents. A faculty member since 2004, Dr. Story earned his doctorate from Colorado State University in 1989.