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Heitman, Wang elected as AAAS Fellows

Dual image. Man with dark hair wearing a lab coat, left. Woman with long gray hair wearing a black-and-white blouse, right.

Elizabeth Heitman, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and Andrew Wang, M.D., Professor of Radiation Oncology, have been elected as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society with members from more than 90 countries. Fellows are selected annually based on their efforts to advance science. 

Elizabeth Heitman, Ph.D.

Dr. Heitman, who works in the Department of Psychiatry’s Program in Ethics in Science and Medicine, is being honored for her pioneering efforts in the fields of research ethics and education in the responsible conduct of research (RCR).

“Election as an AAAS Fellow is a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Heitman, who has secondary appointments in the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health and School of Health Professions. “AAAS is one of the largest and most respected scientific societies in the world, and its commitment to the highest standards of ethics and integrity in research has long made me proud to be a member.”

Dr. Heitman’s work focuses on cultural aspects of ethics in biomedical science, clinical medicine, and public health, particularly international standards of research ethics and education in RCR.

“Science has always posed ethical challenges to researchers and society, but biomedical ethics is a still relatively young area of the larger field of ethics. The particularly rapid expansion and diversification of biomedical science in the last few decades has presented a steady flow of new, increasingly complex questions that I have tried to address in my own research and teaching,” she said.

Dr. Heitman leads the ethics and RCR education activities supported by the UT Southwestern Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program and RCR education for two training grants on cardiovascular health disparities research funded through the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In addition, she is a Multiple Principal Investigator of two International Research Ethics Education grants from the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center – one at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique and the other at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) in Peru, where she and colleagues will develop a new master’s degree in research ethics.

“UPCH is an established partner in research and education with UT Southwestern, and we will also work with colleagues at Tulane School of Public Health and the University of Miami Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy,” she said. “This new program will offer many opportunities for both trainees and faculty to conduct research in research ethics as well as analyze and improve international research policies.”

Dr. Heitman received her Ph.D. in religious studies from Rice University’s joint program in biomedical ethics with UTHealth Houston. She joined the UTSW faculty in 2016. 

Andrew Wang, M.D.

Dr. Wang is being honored for his distinguished contributions to the field of medicine interfacing with technology – specifically nanotechnology – as it applies to radiation oncology and immunotherapy.

“It is a great honor to become a Fellow of AAAS,” said Dr. Wang, who serves as Vice Chair for Translational Research and Commercialization in the Department of Radiation Oncology. “AAAS Fellows have shaped science and have made tremendous positive impacts on today’s society. With this induction, I further commit to the innovative research that changes patients’ lives.”

Dr. Wang, a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, specializes in the treatment of genitourinary and gastrointestinal cancers clinically, and his research program aims to apply advances in engineering sciences to medicine. Continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense since 2013, his research combines an intersection of nanomedicine, cancer immunology, and clinical oncology. His work is innovative and impactful, resulting in more than 40 patent applications.

One of the cancer therapeutics he has developed – antigen-capturing nanoparticles that can improve immunotherapy responses to cancer – is slated to enter clinical investigation trials later this year.

“I am excited about the potential of this technology to improve cancer care,” he said. “I am also excited about a new technology that we have invented that can be used for autoimmune disease treatment. We applied lessons learned from cancer treatment and identified a highly effective strategy that can cure autoimmune diseases – where currently there is none.”

Dr. Wang is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).

After earning his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Wang completed an internship in internal medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, a residency in radiation oncology at Harvard/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following his tenure at the University of North Carolina, he joined the UTSW faculty in 2021.

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