Research, awards and more: Looking back at 2013

It’s hard to believe 2014 is just two short weeks away. But before we roll into a new year, Momentum continues to look back at some of our announcements, exciting events and important research, that happened at Baylor College of Medicine in 2013.

2013 Year in ReviewO’Malley’s research honored, funded

Dr. Bert O’Malley, chair of molecular and cellular biology at the College, was selected to receive the 2014 Dale Medal from the Society for Endocrinology. The award is the society’s highest honor given to a scientist who has changed the understanding of endocrinology in a fundamental way.

The U.S. Department of Defense, in February, awarded O’Malley a $7.8 million Breast Cancer Research Program Innovator Award to fund the development of new coactivator therapies for breast cancer.

New McNair scholars named

The newest McNair Scholars at the College were named in October: Dr. Chenghang Zong, assistant professor of molecular and human genetics, and Dr. Xaq Pitkow, assistant professor of computational neuroscience.

Zong specializes in single cell analyses for tumorigenesis and stem cell differentiation as well as a the interface between novel single cell technologies and quantitative biology. His lab focuses on pancreatic cancer in particular but his work has wide application to tumor-related research.

Pitkow is a computational neuroscientist working to develop theories of the computational function of neural networks, with the goal of explaining how humans use uncertain sensory information to construct coherent perceptions of the world.

Elephant herpes whole genome sequenced

The first complete genome of one of several species of elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHV), associated with a deadly disease that strikes both managed and free ranging elephants, was sequenced by a team of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The finding suggests that this particular virus is so unique it could warrant establishment of a new herpesvirus subfamily catagory.

Lee named to Institute of Medicine

Dr. Brendan Lee, professor in the department of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, was elected to the Institute of Medicine.

Lee is co-director of the Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Bone Disease Program of Texas a collaboration of BCM, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Foundation and the newly established Center for Skeletal Medicine and Biology at BCM.  He holds the Robert and Janice McNair Endowed Chair in Molecular and Human Genetics and is the founder and director of the Skeletal Dysplasia Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital.

He is one of 70 new members and 10 foreign associates named to the institute today. BCM now has 13 IOM members.

Researchers find evidence of local transmission of dengue virus in Houston

In a retrospective study of three years of blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples submitted for West Nile virus testing in the Houston area, researchers at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine found that 47 of the samples were positive for dengue virus. Baylor experts said Houston is a prime environment for the virus to circulate due to the City’s climate and the type of mosquitoes in the metro area.

See more highlights as we share our first installment of 2013 highlights. 

Research in focus: the intersection of big data and genomics.

Be sure to check back each Monday for the rest of the year to see what awards, grants, research and events we highlight.

Think we missed something? Let us know what you think should be included in the comment section below and you could see it mentioned in future posts.

-By Audrey M. Marks

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