Research Highlights

The Allergy Division has focused on basic research in drug hypersensitivity for many years, and another major research focus of the Division has arisen: pediatric asthma. The Division recently completed an NIH-funded multicenter study that examined the relationship between indoor allergens and asthma-associated morbidity in inner city children. It’s also participating in two additional pediatric inner-city asthma studies.

The Center for Autophagy Research at UT Southwestern Medical Center is a newly created Center designed to foster a collaborative interdisciplinary environment for promoting cutting-edge research in the field of autophagy. Our mission is to further develop state-of-the art, innovative, research programs in the biochemistry, structural biology, cell biology, genetics, pharmacology, developmental biology, and physiological or pathophysicological roles of autophagy. Such programs will lead to significant advances in understanding the basic mechanisms of autophagy and its roles in health and disease.

The UT Southwestern Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) is a collaboration involving the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW), Parkland Health & Hospital System (Parkland), Children’s Medical Center (Children’s), the North Texas Veterans Administration Health System (Dallas VA), and the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-Based Practice (EPC) and Decisions about Effectiveness Network (DEcIDE) Centers of Excellence. The theme of the Center is PCOR/CER in underserved patients, populations, and settings, including those served by safety-net systems. We will leverage the resources at UTSW, Parkland, Children’s, and the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center to broadly engage the stakeholders needed to achieve our research and training aims.

In Clinical Genetics, research opportunities at the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development provide expertise and resources for both clinicians and basic scientists to identify genes and sequence variation contributing to human diseases and traits. Many have already been identified by UT Southwestern researchers, as shown in this Human Chromosome Map.

The Division of Digestive & Liver Diseases promotes excellence in research related to gastrointestinal, liver, and pancreatic diseases. Current research topics include molecular pathogenesis of fibrosis, biology of stellate cells, graft-versus-host disease, anti-viral immune responses, opioid immunomodulatory effects, hepatitis B viral replication, and treatment of chronic viral hepatitis.

In the Division of Epidemiology, research into nervous system problems underlying illness in veterans of the 1991 Gulf War led to extensive activities in brain scanning and laboratory investigations of neural mechanisms and genetic correlates. Research in infectious disease epidemiology, originally focused on hospital-acquired (nosocomial) infections, has moved into developing responses to bioterrorist attacks and applying them at the local level through leadership in the Dallas County Medical Society.

The Division of General Internal Medicine faculty are engaged in a broad spectrum of research activities across the clinical and translational spectrum, including clinical epidemiology, outcomes, health services, quality improvement, medical errors, patient safety, disparities, geriatrics, palliative care, medical education, HIV, chronic disease, and translational research studies.

The Division of Hematology/Oncology’s longstanding areas of interest include the molecular basis and models of chronic myelogenous leukemia, the genetic basis of sarcoma, and the role of lipid modifications of proteins in cell signaling and cancer. 

The Division of Infectious Diseases faculty perform cutting-edge clinical, translational, and basic science research in the pathogenesis and treatment of infectious diseases, including HIV, CNS viral infections, hepatitis C virus, respiratory tract infections, and gram-negative bacterial infections.

The Division of Mineral Metabolism focuses on investigations of osteoporosis, kidney stones, and other disorders. This research involves the evaluation of patients seen at the Mineral Metabolism Clinic and other clinics in the area, as well as healthy volunteers from the general population. Research studies range in scope from single visit for the collection of biological samples, to week-long inpatient metabolic evaluations, to long-term outpatient evaluations.

The goal of the research program in the Nephrology Division is the acquisition of new knowledge to advance the understanding of kidney biology and the pathogenesis and treatment of renal disease. Basic science research is conducted in renal physiology, cell biology, epithelial transport, renal growth and development, immunology and inflammation, acute renal failure, diabetic nephropathy, molecular genetics, and polycystic kidney disease. State-of-the-art experimental methods include patch clamp, molecular biology, transgenic and knockout mice, confocal microscopy, tubule microperfusion, fluorimetry, and RNA interference. Clinical trials include projects on vascular access, the pathogenesis of hypertension in chronic renal disease, renal epidemiology, and nephropathy susceptibility genes.

The Division of Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases is actively involved in clinical and basic research pertaining to the disorders of human nutrition and metabolism, such as obesity and other body fat disorders, diabetes, and hyperlipidemias. In 2010 Abhimanyu Garg, M.D., and colleagues ascertained the genetic basis of mandibuloacral dysplasia (MAD), which is a rare, genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous, autosomal recessive disorder; these studies are expected to help increase understanding of the human aging process.

The Division of Pulmonary/Critical Medicine has an active research program, which includes projects in pulmonary physiology, host-pathogen interactions, human genetics, gene regulation, cytoskeletal dynamics, cell signaling, cancer biology, oxidant biochemistry, and vascular biology. These projects are focused on lung disorders, such as pulmonary hypertension, interstitial lung disease, sarcoidosis, lung cancer, and acute lung injury.

The Rheumatic Diseases Division has been a leader in research to understand the causes of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The goal of these studies is to not only understand why these conditions occur, but to help design and test new therapies to improve the lives of patients.