Honors times four

The National Academy of Sciences this year elected four UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists.


The National Academy of Sciences this year elected four UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists in the fields of biophysics, cell biology, molecular biology, and stem cell biology into its membership, one of the highest honors for American scientists.

Drs. Sean Morrison, Kim Orth, Michael Rosen, and Sandra Schmid were selected by their peers in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. With their elections, UT Southwestern’s faculty includes 24 NAS members, more than any other institution in Texas. They will be inducted at next year’s NAS annual meeting.

The UT Southwestern scientists elected this year include:

Dr. Sean Morrison
Dr. Sean Morrison

Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute (CRI) at UT Southwestern and Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Morrison, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator and Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar in Cancer Research, joined UT Southwestern in 2011. The Morrison laboratory studies mechanisms that maintain stem cell function in adult tissues and the ways in which cancer cells hijack these mechanisms to form tumors.

His achievements include pioneering new methods to purify stem cells from multiple tissues and discovering molecular mechanisms that allow stem cells to persist throughout life and to regenerate tissues after injury. Dr. Morrison is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Kim Orth
Dr. Kim Orth

Dr. Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Dr. Orth’s discoveries have advanced the understanding of the basic biochemical mechanisms underlying many bacterial infections by identifying new ways that invading bacteria hijack and deregulate a cell’s signaling systems. The Orth lab studies how pathogens manipulate host cells for their own benefit, providing insights into bacteria that cause foodborne and other illnesses.

Also an HHMI Investigator, Dr. Orth joined the University’s faculty as an endowed scholar in 2001. Her many honors include being selected as a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease in 2006, the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research from The Welch Foundation in 2010, and the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in 2011 from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST).

Dr. Michael Rosen
Dr. Michael Rosen

Dr. Michael Rosen, Chair and Professor of Biophysics and Professor in the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational, and Systems Biology

Dr. Rosen investigates how cells compartmentalize processes without the use of membranes. These phase-separated structures are involved in many cellular mechanisms in health and disease and underlie a fundamental process by which proteins function within the cell. His lab uses biophysical techniques to understand the formation, regulation, and functions of biomolecular condensates – cellular compartments that arise much like the way oil and water droplets separate in a flask.

In addition to being an HHMI Investigator, Dr. Rosen’s many honors include receiving the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award from TAMEST in 2006, becoming the University’s first Allen Distinguished Investigator in 2018, and winning the 2020 Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Sandra Schmid
Dr. Sandra Schmid

Dr. Sandra Schmid, Adjunct Professor of Cell Biology

Dr. Schmid is internationally recognized for her research on endocytosis – how cells take in nutrients and other molecules. She studies the molecular mechanisms and regulation underlying clathrin-mediated endocytosis, the major pathway for uptake into the cell. A pioneer in defining the GTPase dynamin as a catalyst of membrane fission, Dr. Schmid recently discovered isoform-specific functions of dynamin that are activated in cancer cells.

She joined UT Southwestern in 2012 as Chair of Cell Biology and is a former President of the American Society for Cell Biology. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015. Her numerous other honors include the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s William C. Rose Award and the Biophysical Society’s Sir Bernard Katz Award. In May, Dr. Schmid left UTSW to join the Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub in San Francisco as its inaugural Chief Scientific Officer.

Dr. Morrison holds the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at Children’s Research Institute at UT Southwestern and the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics.

Dr. Orth holds the Earl A. Forsythe Chair in Biomedical Science and is a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research.

Dr. Rosen holds the Mar Nell and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry.