Burroughs Wellcome Fund Award furthers immunity research

By Natasha Johnson

Dr. Tamia Harris-Tryon
Dr. Tamia Harris-Tryon

Dr. Tamia Harris-Tryon, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, has received a 2017 Career Award for Medical Scientists from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to further her research related to how certain skin cells defend against infection.

The award will provide $700,000 over five years to support Dr. Harris-Tryon’s transition from a postdoctoral researcher to a faculty position. Dr. Harris-Tryon was among 12 physician-scientists nationwide selected in the $8.4 million program, now in its 11th year.

“I am honored to be a recipient of the award,” Dr. Harris-Tryon said. “For the last three years, I have had the opportunity to complete postdoctoral training in the lab of Immunology Chair Dr. Lora Hooper. In this environment, I have created a research platform to explore how the microorganisms that live on the skin surface regulate the immune system. We have discovered that a protein expressed by the skin can directly kill specific bacteria and defend the host against infection. This award will support continued study of host-microbial interactions at the skin surface.”

Dr. Harris-Tryon, a magna cum laude graduate of Haverford College, completed Johns Hopkins University’s Medical Scientist Training Program in 2010. She finished an internship at the University of Maryland and her dermatology residency at Johns Hopkins. She received the BWF Postdoctoral Enrichment Program award as a postdoctoral fellow in the Hooper laboratory in 2015.

Before coming to UT Southwestern, Dr. Harris-Tryon completed a service rotation in Gaborone, Botswana, as part of the Botswana-UPenn Partnership, sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology.

 “Tamia is a spectacular physician-scientist who is making new inroads into understanding skin immunity. Her work so far has revealed new information about how our immune systems cope with the vast populations of bacteria that are resident on our skin, and has enormous promise for leading to new ways to treat skin infections,” said Dr. Hooper, who has additional appointments in the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense and as a Professor of Microbiology.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the biomedical sciences by supporting research and other educational endeavors.

Dr. Hooper, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, holds the Jonathan W. Uhr, M.D. Distinguished Chair in Immunology.