Postdoc symposium honors excellence in research, mentoring

By Robin Russell / April 1-10, 2011

Postdoctoral scholars and UT Southwestern faculty were recognized for excellence in research and mentoring during the Eighth Annual Postdoctoral Research Symposium.

The event, sponsored by the Postdoctoral Association of the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, included a poster session with 129 submissions, judged by 80 faculty members, and a lecture by Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov, professor of immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Dr. Jaekuk Kim (right) discusses his poster with Dr. Sungwon Han during the recent postdoc symposium. Dr. Kim’s poster was titled “Vacuum Matrix Sublimation with Vapor Induced Crystallization for Label-Free Detection of Intact Proteins.”

The symposium also featured two new events: the Transferable Skills Workshop, which had a waiting list for participation, and the CV/Resume seminar, which drew 100 postdoctoral scholars and graduate students.

Dr. Steven McKnight, chairman of biochemistry, served as faculty chair for the symposium and recognized the postdoctoral scholars as “the future of science.”

At a reception in the T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building, the following awardees were recognized:

  • Dr. Tongjin Zhao, postdoctoral researcher in molecular genetics, for Excellence in Postdoctoral Research. Mentor: Dr. Joseph Goldstein, chairman of molecular genetics
  • Dr. Kevin Gardner, professor of biochemistry, and Dr. Jane Johnson, professor of neuroscience, for Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring
  • Dr. Carrie Partch, postdoctoral research fellow in biochemistry, received the Dean’s Discretionary Award. Mentor: Dr. Gardner.

In addition, Cathy Cavins, former staff member in the Postdoctoral Affairs Office and now a member of the PeopleSoft Implementation team, and Dr. Cory Blaiss, former postdoctoral researcher in neurology, received Distinguished Service Awards.

In the poster session, grand prize winners were:

  • Dr. Long Shan Li, postdoctoral researcher in the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, “Modulating endogenous NQO1 levels identifies key regulatory mechanisms of action of β–lapachone for pancreatic cancer therapy.” Mentor: Dr. David Boothman, professor of pharmacology;
  • Dr. Isaac Marin-Valencia, postdoctoral research fellow in pediatrics, “Does the Warbug effect exist in vivo? Analyzing glucose metabolism in FDG-PET-positive tumors using 13C-NMR spectroscopy.” Mentor: Dr. Juan Pascual, assistant professor of neurology; and
  • Dr. Sam Holmstrom, postdoctoral researcher in pharmacology, “LRH-1 cooperates with PTF1 to regulate exocrine pancreas function.” Mentors: Dr. David Manglesdorf, chairman of pharmacology, and Dr. Steven Kliewer, professor of molecular biology.

Commendable prize winners in the poster session were:

  • Dr. Diana Canseco, postdoctoral research fellow in internal medicine, “Cytoglobin: a stress-responsive hemoprotein regulating cardiomyocyte homeostasis and survival.” Mentor: Dr. Pradeep Mammen, assistant professor of internal medicine; and
  • Dr. Sang Bum Kim, postdoctoral researcher in cell biology, “Bardoxolone methyl, a novel EGFR activator that protects human colonic epithelial cells against radiation.” Mentor: Dr. Jerry Shay, vice chairman of cell biology.

Meritorious research prize winners were:

  • Dr. Michael Dorwart, postdoctoral research fellow in physiology, “MscL is a pentamer in vivo but of variable stoichoimetries in vitro: implications for detergent-solubilized membrane proteins.” Mentor: Dr. Youxing Jiang, associate professor of physiology;
  • Dr. Haruta Mogami, postdoctoral researcher in obstetrics and gynecology, “Thrombin – a pathologic factor in preterm labor and preterm rupture of membranes.” Mentor: Dr. Ruth Ann Word, professor of obstetrics and gynecology;
  • Dr. Kunhua Song, postdoctoral researcher in molecular biology, “Cardiac repair by reprogramming fibroblasts to cardiomyocytes by defined factors.” Mentor: Dr. Eric Olson, chairman of molecular biology;
  • Dr. Nien-Pei Tsai, postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience, “Protocadherin-10 mediates MEF2- and FMRP-dependent synapse elimination.” Mentor: Dr. Kimberly Huber, associate professor of neuroscience;
  • Dr. Seok-Ho Yu, postdoctoral researcher in internal medicine, “Capturing O-GlcNAc’s interactions via photocrosslinkable sugar.” Mentor: Dr. Jennifer J. Kohler, assistant professor of internal medicine; and
  • Dr. Huxing Cui, postdoctoral researcher in psychiatry, “Melanocortin-4 receptor signaling in the lateral hypothalamic area regulates acute responses to high fat diet.” Mentors: Dr. Michael Lutter, assistant professor of psychiatry, and Dr. Joel Elmquist, professor of internal medicine.
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Dr. Steven McKnight holds the Distinguished Chair in Basic Biomedical Research and the Sam G. Winstead and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry.