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Peter J. Hotez (Class of 1987) Recipient of Research America's Leadership Award

Research America has named Tri-Institutional MD-PhD alum Peter J. Hotez as its 2018 recipient of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award for Sustained National Leadership. Dr. Hotez receives this award for his far-reaching work in the areas of neglected tropical disease (NTD) research and vaccine development. Dr. Hotez is dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine where he is also professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology. He serves as the director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, where he leads a unique product development partnership for developing new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and SARS/MERS, diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. In 2006 at the Clinton Global Initiative, he co-founded a Global Network for NTDs to provide access to essential medicines for hundreds of millions of people. Hotez was among the first to predict Zika's emergence in the U.S. and is recognized as an authority on vaccines. He is an outspoken leader of national efforts to educate the public about vaccines amid growing misconceptions about them, and he has appeared on BBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Hotez is founding Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

The annual Research America Advocacy Awards program was established by the Board of Directors in 1996 to honor outstanding advocates for medical, health and scientific research.

(Excerpted from Research America webpage:

Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program alum Dr. Joseph Heitman (Class of 1992, pictured in center) recently shared how a project he started nearly three decades ago culminated into this year's recipient 2017 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Science Research Award, for its fundamental discovery that opens up a new area of biomedical sciences. The Lasker Awards program, created in 1945, "recognize[s] the contributions of researchers, clinician scientists, and public servants who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of human disease."

Dr. Heitman writes: "There has been quite a bit of excitement with the recent announcement of the Lasker Award for the discovery of TOR as the target of rapamycin. That was the project that I launched as an MD, PhD student on a leave of absence from medical school in 1989-1991, in which I was supported by an EMBO long term fellowship to work with Mike Hall at the Biocenter in Basel, Switzerland. This project stemmed from a collaboration between the Biocenter and Rao Movva who was an investigator and scientist at Sandoz in Basel (later Novartis). It is a story of scientific discovery at its best, and the impact of the MSTP program and its training on the future trajectory of science and of medicine."

For more on about the discovery and the project, "Nutrient-activated TOR proteins that regulate cell growth," click here:

Dr. Heitman currently serves as Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and as the James B. Duke Professor in Departments of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology (MGM), Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, and Medicine Director, Tri-Institutional (Duke, UNC, NC State) Molecular Mycology and Pathogenesis Training Program (Tri-I MMPTP) at Duke University Medical Center.

Kara Maxwell, MD, PhD (Class of 2007), Receives Burroughs Wellcome Career Award for Medical Scientists

Kara N. Maxwell, a Tri-Institutional MD/PhD alumna, received a 2017 Career Award for Medical Scientists (CAMS) from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for her study, "A genotype-phenotype study of tumors from patients with inherited mutations in DNA repair genes." The CAMS program provides $700,000 in funding over five years, to help physicians transition into a full-time career as a biomedical research scientists and tenured faculty members.

Kara is a medical oncologist, and PhD trained molecular and cellular biologist. Her research interests are in the genetics of human disease, particularly familial cancers, and in the translation of genetic data for managing individuals at risk for cancer and for directing novel therapies for oncology patients.

Kara is currently an instructor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Robert McGinty, MD, PhD (Class of 2011) Named 2017 Searle Scholar

Robert McGinty, MD, PhD, a 2011 alumnus of the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program, has been selected as a 2017 Searle Scholar. The Searle Scholars Program supports research of outstanding individuals who have recently begun their appointment at the assistant professor level, and whose appointment is their first tenure-track position at participating universities and research centers. Each year, fifteen new scientists are named Searle Scholars. Recipients are awarded $300,000 in flexible funding to support their work over the next three years.

Dr. McGinty studies the mechanisms governing epigentic signaling at the nucleosome and chromatin levels. Nucleosomes are a basic unit of DNA packaging in cells, and nucleosomes form chromatin, the material that makes up chromosomes. He uses protein chemistry to reconstitute "designer" nucleosomes and chromatin containing defined patterns of post-translational modifications. Dr. McGinty is an assistant professor in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy. He is also the associate director of structural biology in the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, an associate member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and an affiliate faculty member of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the UNC School of Medicine.

American Society for Clinical Investigation Elects Four Tri-I Alums to Council

The American Society for Clinical Investigation Council received 160 membership nominations for 2016 and recommended 74 nominees for election. Of those 74 are four Tri-I alums-- Tobias Hohl, Agata Smogorzewska, Danny Reich, and Joe Arron (pictured clockwise from top left). Congratulations to all!

Complete list of Residency Appointments 2017 - 1991




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