High-quality research

UT Southwestern ranked top institution globally for published research in Nature Index ‘healthcare’ category

UT Southwestern ranked first among peer institutions in the ‘healthcare’ category on the Nature Index 2018 Annual Tables, which evaluated publication of high-quality research.

UT Southwestern Medical Center is the top institution within the “healthcare” category internationally for publishing high-quality scientific research, according to the recently released Nature Index 2018 Annual Tables.

UTSW is ranked first among peer institutions that include Columbia University Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and UC San Diego Health. Others rounding out the top 10 are the University of Michigan Health System, MD Anderson Cancer Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, UCLA Health, and Duke University Health System.

“As one of the world’s foremost research institutions, UT Southwestern has long cultivated an environment where the pursuit of rigorous scientific research blends seamlessly with multidisciplinary collaboration, resulting in a strong record of leading-edge discoveries and consistent translation into new treatment development,” says Dr. Dwain Thiele, Interim Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School who holds the Jan and Henri Bromberg Chair in Internal Medicine.

The UT Southwestern faculty has received six Nobel Prizes since 1985 and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators.

The Nature Index 2018 rankings include primary research articles published in a group of 82 high-quality science journals selected by a panel of active scientists independently of Nature Research. More information about the Nature Index can be found at natureindex.com.

Dr. Hobbs awarded international prize for cholesterol work

Dr. Helen Hobbs

One of the world’s most prestigious awards in cardiovascular research – the Lefoulon-Delalande Grand Prize in Science – has been awarded to UT Southwestern geneticist Dr. Helen Hobbs.

The 600,000 euro prize that Dr. Hobbs shares with two other scientists was given to her by the Lefoulon-Delalande Foundation at the Institut de France in late May recognizing her role in the discovery of a novel way to reduce cholesterol.

Using a large gene and phenotype database, Dr. Hobbs and her scientific partners discovered that individuals with mutations in the PCSK9 gene have low blood cholesterol levels and are protected from heart disease. Not only did Dr. Hobbs’ discovery lead to the development of a drug to lower treatment-resistant high cholesterol and thus reduce risk of heart disease, but her research also changed the methodology used by many genetic researchers.

“Pioneering research by Dr. Hobbs and her colleagues has provided novel insights into the genetic basis of cholesterol metabolism, which together with the work of other investigators has led to the development of a new class of agents to treat hypercholesterolemia,” says Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, who holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Hobbs – a Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics at UT Southwestern, Director of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator – made the surprising discovery of the effect of PCSK9 mutations using data from the Dallas Heart Study. The local study provided a large database of genetic and physical trait information on an ethnically diverse group of 3,500 individuals.

Dr. Hobbs holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished Chair for the Study of Human Growth and Development, the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Chair in Developmental Biology, and the 1995 Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiology Research.

Reese becomes UT Southwestern’s latest Pew Scholar

Dr. Tiffany Reese

UT Southwestern immunologist Dr. Tiffany Reese has been named UT Southwestern’s seventh Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, a prestigious award program for early career scientists who tackle some of the world’s most pressing health problems. Statewide, UT Southwestern has the most Pew Scholars.

With award funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Scholars Program, Dr. Reese plans to investigate how maternal inflammation during pregnancy alters the immunity of the developing fetus. Her lab focuses on how microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria interact to trigger or affect the immune system.

The crosstalk between mother and fetus is known to significantly affect development of the fetal immune system – but scientists understand very little about the fundamental mechanisms that drive fetal immune programming.

“Recent associations of Zika virus infection in pregnant mothers with infant congenital abnormalities highlight the pressing need to understand the impact of maternal infections on fetal development,” says Dr. Reese, Assistant Professor of Immunology and Microbiology and a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research at UTSW. “This need is even more apparent when one considers the hundreds of millions of mothers worldwide who harbor infections during pregnancy, all of which can alter immune responses without transmitting to the fetus.”

With her research, Dr. Reese hopes to learn more about the relationship between maternal infection and altered fetal immune programming. “These studies will not only enhance our understanding of maternal-fetal interactions, but also have broad implications for efforts aimed at enhancing immunity in infants to vaccination or infection worldwide,” Dr. Reese says.