Newsmakers — Holidays 2010

Dr. Zhijian “James” Chen, professor of molecular biology, has been appointed to the George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science. Dr. Chen’s work focuses on cell signaling, especially in the immune system. He primarily studies a protein called ubiquitin, which tags proteins for routine breakdown but also activates a key step in the body’s early immune response. Dr. Chen also discovered a mitochondrial protein, MAVS, which is essential for immune defense against viral infection. Dr. Chen, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, holds the Robert McLemore Professorship in Medical Science.

Dr. Lora Hooper, associate professor of immunology and microbiology and director of the Immunology Graduate Program, has been named holder of the J. Wayne Streilein, M.D., Professorship in Immunology. Dr. Hooper, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2003 as the Nancy Cain and Jeffrey A. Marcus Scholar in Medical Research, in Honor of Dr. Bill S. Vowell. Her research centers on host-microbial interactions, including how microbes — especially the hundreds of species of bacteria in the human gut — help to shape the development and function of the immune system. Her work has applications in the search for novel ways to fight infections due to the growing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Dr. Edward Livingston, chief of GI/endocrine surgery, has been named chair of the graduate program in biomedical engineering in the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The program offers master and doctorate degrees in biomedical engineering through a joint agreement with UT Arlington and UT Dallas, which includes academic instruction and research collaboration on all three campuses. The initial collaborative program between UT Arlington and UT Southwestern is one of the oldest bioengineering programs in the country. UT Dallas joined the program last year. Dr. Livingston, who holds the Dr. Lee Hudson-Robert R. Penn Chair in Surgery, is spearheading the collaborative effort for UT Southwestern to further develop the joint efforts, with initiatives in robotic surgery and automation, computational biology, biochemistry and pharmacology among priorities. He also has a secondary appointment as professor of bioengineering at UT Arlington.

Dr. Lisa Monteggia, associate professor of psychiatry, has been named first holder of the Ginny and John Eulich Professorship in Autism Spectrum Disorders. “This recognition brings a heightened sense of urgency and responsibility to intensify our ongoing efforts in the field,” Dr. Monteggia said. “Our current understanding of the biological basis of autism is in its infancy. The development of viable therapeutic approaches will require a better understanding of what goes wrong in the brains of children with these disorders at the level of individual nerve cells and neuronal circuits.” The $100,000 gift, donated by Dallas philanthropists Virginia and John Eulich, was part of $1.4 million raised by the 2008 Crystal Charity Ball autism program. Dr. Monteggia’s lab research includes understanding autism and autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Monteggia earned her Ph.D from The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, completed training at Yale University and Abbott Laboratories, and has been a faculty member since 2002.

Dr. Elizabeth Parks, associate professor of clinical nutrition, has been appointed to the editorial board of Advances in Nutrition, a new online peer-reviewed journal produced by the American Society for Nutrition. The bi-monthly journal, which debuted in November, is designed to both explain the significance of new research findings as well as highlight research gaps and future directions in the field of nutrition. Dr. Parks joined the
UT Southwestern faculty in October 2005.

Dr. Rod Rohrich
, chairman of plastic surgery, received the 2010 Presidents Award, the highest award from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the world’s largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons, during its annual meeting in Toronto. The President’s Award recognizes outstanding achievement and service throughout a distinguished career. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons represents more than 7,000 physician members, comprising more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Dr. Rohrich has served as president of the ASPS and is past-member of the ASPS Board of Directors, the Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation (PSEF), the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) and the Aesthetic Society Education and Research Foundation (ASERF).

  / Holidays 2010