PRC recognizes Clegg, Corbin

The President’s Research Council has named two outstanding UT Southwestern investigators as recipients of its 2010 Distinguished Early-Career Researcher Award.

Dr. Deborah Clegg, assistant professor of internal medicine, and Dr. Ian Corbin, assistant professor in the Advanced Imaging Research Center and of Internal Medicine, each received a $65,000 award at the council’s annual dinner May 11.

Dr. Deborah Clegg

“This year’s PRC award winners were selected from a group of extraordinary nominees representing research groups across campus,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, UT Southwestern president. “Drs. Clegg and Corbin represent the best of early-career researchers worldwide, and we are extremely pleased that they have chosen to pursue their individual research efforts here at UT Southwestern.”

Dr. Clegg, who has joint appointments in the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research and the Department of Clinical Nutrition, said it’s amazing to be nominated, let alone selected to join such a prestigious group of researchers. She said the funds will help her get more preliminary data in an effort to attract National Institutes of Health support.

“I’m trying to understand the critical role estrogen plays in the brain and adipose tissue of both men and womesn,” she said. “My lab fundamentally believes that males and females are different, and we’re trying to understand how that influences metabolism in order to potentially protect men and women from becoming obese and developing secondary conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

“When everything is said and done, I think there will be drugs that are prescribed at different doses for men and women or different combinations entirely,” she added.

Dr. Clegg received a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Oregon State University in 1986 and a doctorate in nutrition from the University of Georgia in 2000. She was an assistant professor of psychiatry in the Obesity Research Center at the University of Cin­cinnati before joining the UT Southwestern faculty in 2008.

Dr. Ian Corbin

Dr. Corbin said that being chosen to receive this award is as much a reflection of his mentors as of his own professional success.

He currently is working to develop novel approaches such as molecular imaging and nanoparticle-based delivery systems to improve the capacity to detect, characterize and someday treat diseases of the upper abdomen.

“Upper abdominal malignancies, such as primary liver cancer, represent some of the most challenging cancers to manage,” he said. “While the frequencies of most other forms of cancer are decreasing in the U.S., the incidence of primary liver cancer is steadily increasing. In Texas, the incidence has nearly doubled over the last two decades, and this trend is projected to continue in the years to come.”

Dr. Corbin, who also studies fatty liver disease, said he hopes to increase awareness of abdominal diseases. “I’m currently trying to establish a research program targeted to abdominal diseases, particularly those involving the liver and the pancreas,” he said.

Dr. Corbin received both a master’s degree in anatomy and cell sciences, and a doctoral degree in pharmacology and therapeutics from the University of Manitoba. He went on to do post­doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania and was a scientific associate at University Health Network in Toronto before coming to UT Southwestern in September.

The Distinguished Early-Career Researcher Awards are presented annually by the President’s Research Council, which is made up of community leaders interested in learning about and advancing medical research at UT Southwestern. Its membership fees support research by new faculty investigators. The organization was founded in 1985 by Cece Smith and Ford Lacy.

President’s Research Council members are invited to attend four lectures a year given by leading UT Southwestern researchers as well as an annual banquet honoring awardees. For membership information, contact the Office of Development at 214-648-2344.