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Research that drives innovation

UTSW among world’s elite in research that drives innovation

Research Test Tubes

UT Southwestern ranks fifth in the world in the number of research articles cited as significant sources in third-party patent applications, according to a new metric.

The Normalized Lens Influence Metric, created by The Lens and published in Nature as a Nature Index 2017 Innovation supplement, represents a way to evaluate an institution’s impact and influence on industrial innovation. Tracking the path from discovery to commercial product could help institutions better evaluate the return on research investments.

Launched in 2014, the Nature Index database tracks author affiliations of research articles published in 68 natural science journals. The Lens is a public resource that provides open-source databases of patents and software to search the databases.

The top institutions by Lens score include:

  1. The Scripps Research Institute
  2. The Rockefeller University
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. University of Massachusetts Medical School
  5. UT Southwestern Medical Center
  6. Weizmann Institute of Science
  7. National Institutes of Health
  8. UC San Francisco
  9. Stanford University
  10. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

UTSW joins global effort to map human cells

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Dr. Genevieve Konopka

UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute is part of an international effort funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) to support the.

The atlas is an ambitious global collaboration to map and characterize all the cells in the human body. Envisioned as a fundamental resource for scientists, the completed atlas could lead to a better understanding of “how healthy cells work and what goes wrong when disease strikes,” according to the CZI website.

Dr. Genevieve Konopka, Associate Professor of Neuroscience with the O’Donnell Institute, leads a team evaluating optimal technologies for determining gene expression in the brain. UT Southwestern is among seven institutions working on brain science investigations as one of the CZI’s 38 pilot projects to help build tools and technologies for the Human Cell Atlas.

The project’s title is “Optimizing Acquisition, Processing, and Storage of Samples Using Multiple Methods of Single Cell Transcriptomics as a Readout.”

A Jon Heighten Scholar in Autism Research, Dr. Konopka published a study in late 2017 identifying more than 100 genes linked to memory, opening new avenues of research to better understand memory processing in the human brain. Her current line of research has implications for the understanding and treatment of brain disorders with complex genomic underpinnings such as autism and schizophrenia.

International award honors Scherer for diabetes research

Dr. Philipp Scherer

Dr. Philipp Scherer, Director of the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research, recently won the 2017 EASD-Novo Nordisk Foundation Diabetes Prize for Excellence in recognition of his research on the relationship between body fat and Type 2 diabetes.

The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) prize is bestowed to an internationally recognized researcher for outstanding research or technology that contributes to the understanding of diabetes, its disease mechanisms, or its complications. The prize includes 6 million Danish kroner (approximately $960,000) and is widely considered the most prestigious European prize for diabetes research.

Dr. Scherer, a Professor of Internal Medicine and Cell Biology, is known for his 1995 discovery of adiponectin – a hormone produced by fat – and for defining its physiologic roles. Previously, adipose tissue had been considered solely a storage depot for excess calories.

The prize announcement hailed Dr. Scherer as “a giant in the world of diabetes research.” It praised the creativity of his work, which led to a new perspective on the pathophysiology of the metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes, two of the world’s most common chronic conditions. Dr. Scherer holds the Gifford O. Touchstone, Jr. and Randolph G. Touchstone Distinguished Chair in Diabetes Research.

Graduate students awarded HHMI Gilliam Fellowships

Carlos Paz (left) and Matthew Mendoza

Two UT Southwestern graduate students are among only 39 graduate students nationwide recently awarded 2017 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study.

The HHMI recognized Matthew Mendoza and Carlos Paz with awards that provide $46,000 for each recipient annually for three years. The awards include a stipend, a training allowance, and an institutional allowance. Part of the award supports a year of mentoring and development activities for the student’s mentor.

Mr. Mendoza is the first person in his family to go to college, let alone pursue a scientific career. To fund his education, he worked as a shoe salesman, an instructor for Mad Science, a University of North Texas (UNT) Mean Green Phone-a-thon fundraiser, and a UNT Career Center peer adviser.

His work in the laboratory of Dr. Lenora Volk, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry, is aimed at understanding the molecular and synaptic basis of learning and memory, with a focus on how those processes mature with age.

Mr. Paz earned an undergraduate degree in biochemistry at San Diego State University. A graduate student of cell and molecular biology working in the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational, and Systems Biology, Mr. Paz is currently studying the relationship of a protein’s thermodynamic stability of folding to its intrinsic adaptation capacity, known scientifically as its evolvability.