An illuminating rhythm

Takahashi receives global award for pioneering work on circadian rhythms 

Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi

Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi, Chairman of Neuroscience at UT Southwestern, has received an international award for his pioneering work on the molecular and genetic bases of circadian rhythms in mammals.

The Gruber Neuroscience Prize – an annual award that honors scientists for major discoveries that advance the understanding of the nervous system – recognized in particular Dr. Takahashi’s discovery of Clock, the first mammalian gene controlling circadian rhythms. Subsequent research has established Clock as a prominent regulator of many genes and a key target to better understand the primary underpinnings of human physiology.

The prize, which includes a $500,000 award, will be presented to Dr. Takahashi on Oct. 20 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago.

The recognition comes 25 years after Science published a breakthrough study by Dr. Takahashi that led to the discovery of Clock. A cascade of other findings has stemmed from his lab’s work over the years, helping scientists understand the important role biological clocks have in some of the most crucial functions in the human body – from sleep and mental health to metabolism and defending against deadly diseases such as cancer. 

Dr. Takahashi holds the Loyd B. Sands Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience.

UT Southwestern ranked top institution globally for published research in Nature Index health care category

UT Southwestern Medical Center North Campus

For the second consecutive year, UT Southwestern Medical Center is the top health care institution internationally for publishing high-quality biomedical research, according to the recently released Nature Index 2019 Biomedical Sciences Tables. This ranking is based on contributions to high-quality biomedical research articles between 2015 and 2018.

Ongoing support from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), along with the state of Texas, foundations, individuals, and corporations, provides nearly $470 million annually to fund research at UT Southwestern. The University also ranked globally among the top 10 health care institutions and among the top 100 of all academic institutions, according to the 2019 Nature Index Annual listings, which are based on high-quality publications in all disciplines in 2018. Other peer institutions on the global listings include Harvard, Stanford, Yale, MIT, and the NIH in the United States, along with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China, the University of Oxford in England, and the Max Planck Society in Germany.

The Nature Index 2019 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, to reflect a consensus of the upper echelon of journals.

Cobb elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Melanie Cobb

Dr. Melanie Cobb, Professor of Pharmacology, Associate Director of Basic Research for the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and a luminary in molecular pharmacology, has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences – one of the most prestigious honorary societies in the world.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) includes more than 250 Nobel Laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners among its members. The election of more than 200 new members for 2019 was announced by the AAAS in mid-April.

Dr. Cobb, who holds the Jane and Bill Browning, Jr. Chair in Medical Science, leads UT Southwestern’s Cancer Cell Networks Program and headed a team that discovered one class of protein kinase enzymes that play critical roles in cancer development. She identified the first mammalian mitogen-activated protein kinases in the early 1990s. She purified them, isolated cDNAs encoding these proteins, and named them ERK1, ERK2, and ERK3, or ERKs. It was a meaningful breakthrough because Ras, an important protein involved in cell growth and differentiation, has an intimate relationship with these kinases.

Dr. Cobb is the 23rd UT Southwestern faculty member elected to the AAAS. Others include Nobel Laureates Drs. Bruce Beutler, Michael Brown, and Joseph Goldstein

Outgoing Internal Medicine Chair honored as a Giant of Cancer Care

Dr. David Johnson (center) receives his award as one of 15 Giants of Cancer Care.
Photography courtesy of OncLive

Dr. David Johnson was recently honored as one of 15 Giants of Cancer Care at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago. The award was given by OncLive.com, the website for the Oncology Specialty Group. Past inductees have included leading cancer experts from Harvard Medical School, Stanford, Yale, and the National Cancer Institute.

The honor comes as Dr. Johnson prepares to step down after nine years of service as UT Southwestern’s Chair of Internal Medicine. He is an oncologist who has been on all sides of cancer; he’s an attending physician, a leading expert in clinical trials, an enthusiastic supporter of cancer research, and a former cancer patient himself.

While connecting with patients on a level that few other doctors could match, Dr. Johnson also pushed forward with clinical trials for several new drugs that would later become staples in lung cancer treatment.

He hired tremendous talent leading the Department of Internal Medicine, producing a net gain of 150 new faculty members, and he played an important role in opening UT Southwestern’s 460-bed William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital.

Dr. Johnson holds the Donald W. Seldin Distinguished Chair in Internal Medicine.