Barshop faculty draw millions in career development awards

Posted: Monday, October 13, 2008

Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D., received a prestigious four-year $548,000 Julie Martin Mid-Career Award in Aging Research and a three-year $375,000 grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association.clear graphic
Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D., received a prestigious four-year $548,000 Julie Martin Mid-Career Award in Aging Research and a three-year $375,000 grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 

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Contact: Will Sansom, (210) 567-2579

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 24, 2008) — Up-and-coming faculty of the UT Health Science Center San Antonio’s Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies have attracted career development awards this year totaling $2.2 million to support research of the basic biology of aging. The awards and grants complement many others won by the institute in 2008.

“The Barshop Institute is bringing together the world's leading scientists in aging research and equipping them with the latest technologies and research methods to understand, treat and cure aging-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, as well as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease,” Barshop Institute Director Arlan G. Richardson, Ph.D., said. “I am proud that these young and highly coveted scientists are conducting their research in San Antonio.”

Investigators and their projects
The following awards have come this year to Barshop Institute investigators. Each investigator is appointed to the UT Health Science Center Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences department listed after his or her name.

  • Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D., Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, won the prestigious Julie Martin Mid-Career Award in Aging Research sponsored by the Ellison Medical Foundation. The four-year award totaling $548,000 supports studies of a protein’s protective role in staving off age-related muscle atrophy.
  • Dr. Van Remmen also won a three-year, $375,000 grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association to investigate the role of pro-inflammatory pathways in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
  • Yuji Ikeno, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Pathology, won the Breakthroughs in Gerontology Award from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and the American Federation for Aging Research. The two-year award totaling $200,000 supports studies of the protective role of a major antioxidant in obese mice.
  • Anson Pierce, Ph.D., Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, won the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Career Development Award. The three-year award totaling $420,000 will continue his studies of the heat shock response and whether or not its activation can delay ALS.
  • Carlos Orihuela, Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology, won an American Federation for Aging Research grant. The award of $60,000 is supporting a project that examines how age-related changes in the lungs increases susceptibility to pneumonia.
  • Shane Rea, Ph.D., Department of Physiology, won the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholars in Aging Award. The four-year, $400,000 award will be used to map metabolic pathways required for long life in Caenorhabditis elegans, a roundworm found in soil.
  • Viviana Pérez, Ph.D., Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, was selected to join the Ellison Medical Foundation/American Federation for Aging Research Senior Postdoctoral Fellows Research Program. The two-year fellowship provides $100,000 to help Dr. Perez examine fundamental mechanisms of aging in long-lived mice.
  • Elizabeth Fernandez, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology, received research funding from the Veterans Integrated Service Network 17. The award is $90,000 over two years, supporting studies of Parkinson’s disease.
  • In addition, Karl Rodriguez, a graduate student in the Department of Molecular Medicine, received a two-year dissertation award totaling $52,000 from the National Institute on Aging to study aging in mice, particularly the role of the proteasome, a cellular machine that digests proteins. He works in the laboratory of Maria Gaczynska, Ph.D.
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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $668 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 23,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and other health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit

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