Newsmakers — Feb. 19-28, 2011

Dr. Leticia Castillo, professor of pediatrics and director of the division of pediatric critical care, has been elected to the American Pediatric Society. The goal of the society is to “bring together men and women for the advancement of the study of infants, children and adolescents and their diseases, for the prevention of illness and the promotion of health in childhood, for the promotion of pediatric education and research, and to honor those who, by their contributions to pediatrics, have aided in its advancement.”

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, who is also 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.

The new Society of Pediatric Research has inducted four faculty members, including Dr. Andrew Koh, assistant professor of pediatrics and director of pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Dr. Halim Hennes, professor of pediatrics and director of the division of pediatric emergency medicine; and Drs. Shelley Crary and Cindy Neunert, both assistant professors of pediatrics in hematology/oncology. Drs. Crary and Neunert are also former clinical scholars here at UT Southwestern. The society is designed to encourage young investigators engaged in either clinical or laboratory research endeavors that will benefit children. Members are encouraged to submit manuscripts to Pediatric Research, the official journal of the American Pediatric Society / Society of Pediatric Research and several other pediatric organizations.

Dr. Edward Livingston, chair of the division of gastrointestinal and endocrine surgery, has been named chair of the graduate program in biomedical engineering at UT Southwestern, part of the 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, that 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, with UT Dallas joining the program last year. Thirteen interdisciplinary research teams of faculty from the three institutions have received grants totaling about $1.3 million to pursue collaborative projects, with the goal of stimulating efforts at the interface between biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, computer science and mathematics. Funding for the projects comes from state and philanthropic sources. 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 brain 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 conducted research at UT Southwestern as a faculty member since 2002.

Dr. Elizabeth Parks, associate professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center, 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 2010, 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, who holds of the Crystal Charity Ball Distinguished Chair in Plastic Surgery and the Warren and Betty Woodward Chair in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 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). He also serves as editor of the society’s official journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and recently returned from Shenyang, China, where he represented the ASPS and the journal at a signing ceremony for a contract with the Chinese Journal of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery (CJAPS), the official medical journal of the Chinese Association of Medical Doctors. Every two months, the Chinese editors of CJAPS, in collaboration with PRS, will select two articles from PRS for translation and inclusion in their journal.

Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery, has been presented the Distinguished Service Award and Distinguished Award for Humanitarian Service by the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. The academy’s board of directors presented the dual awards during its annual meeting in Boston. The humanitarian award recognizes longtime dedication to humanitarian outreach in the field of otologic medicine and surgery. It is given to a single individual each year and is considered the foundation’s most prestigious award. The distinguished service award is given for exceptional service in scientific programs, exhibits, continuing education courses and instructional courses of the society. The academy is the world's largest organization representing specialists who treat the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck with more than 12,000 otolaryngologists and surgeons. Dr. Roland, also professor of neurological surgery and chief of pediatric otology at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, holds the Arthur E. Meyerhoff Chair in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

The International Society of Magnetic Resonance recently named Dr. Dean Sherry, professor of radiology and director of the UT Southwestern Advanced Imaging Research Center, to fellowship status. Dr. Sherry will receive the Fellowship Award at the group’s annual meeting in May in Montreal. He holds a joint appointment at UT Southwestern and UT Dallas, where he is a professor of chemistry and holder of the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology. Dr. Sherry founded a company, Macrocyclics, which provides biomedical research materials to academic and industrial labs worldwide. He joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 1990.

Dr. Philip Thomas, professor of physiology, has been named holder of the Ruth S. Harrell Professorship in Medical Research. Dr. Thomas’ work centers on the structure and folding of proteins. These proteins serve many vital functions when properly folded, such as transporting substances into or out of cells. Dr. Thomas studies how misfolding of proteins results in diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Parkinson’s disease, and how to draw on this knowledge to develop new treatments. He joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 1993, and in 2008 received a National Institutes of Health MERIT Award.

Feb. 19-28, 2011 /