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Drs. Bankole Johnson, Wen-Hwa Lee to join luminaries in Texas Hall of Fame for Science, Mathematics and Technology

San Antonio (Jan. 8, 2003) — Two trailblazing faculty members from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) — internationally acclaimed addiction scientist Bankole A. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D., and world-renowned cancer geneticist Wen-Hwa Lee, Ph.D. — will be inducted this month into The Texas Hall of Fame for Science, Mathematics and Technology. Previous honorees include Nobel laureates, astronauts, surgeons and a former chancellor of The University of Texas System. The induction ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Adam's Mark San Antonio Riverwalk Hotel, 111 Pecan St. East.

"This is the fourth year of the recognition of the 'giants' of science in our state," said Joan Drennan-Taylor, executive director of the Hall of Fame. "All of the honorees are very well known in their fields, but they may not be well known otherwise. They have made many sacrifices over the years strictly for their love of science, math and technology. We have a lot of sports heroes and other role models for our children, so it is important that we recognize these scientists, as well."

Dr. Johnson is the William and Marguerite Wurzbach Distinguished Professor at the Health Science Center. He directs the South Texas Addiction Research and Technology (START) Center, a specialized facility where faculty members develop new interventions in the areas of alcoholism and drug addiction. The START Center approach integrates neuroscience and psychosocial interventions into treatment design.

Dr. Johnson is deputy chairman for research in the department of psychiatry and chief of the department's alcohol and drug addiction division. One of his signature findings is that the drug ondansetron, taken orally, is highly effective in treating alcoholics with neurochemical abnormalities. Dr. Johnson also studies isradipine as a drug to prevent stroke in cocaine users.

Dr. Lee occupies the Alice P. McDermott Distinguished University Chair in Molecular Medicine. He is professor and chair of the department of molecular medicine and director of the Health Science Center's Institute of Biotechnology in the Texas Research Park. Dr. Lee's pioneering work on the identification of the first human tumor-suppressor gene and establishment of the gene's cancer-suppression function has shaped experts' fundamental understanding of the genetic basis of human cancer formation.

He is continuing his pioneering research on the biological function of the retinoblastoma tumor-suppressor gene and extending his investigation of how two breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and 2, function to prevent breast cancer formation. His contributions have transformed what were merely theoretical concepts of tumor suppression into viable and practical approaches for treating human cancers that arise because of dysfunctional tumor suppressors.

More information about The Texas Hall of Fame for Science, Mathematics and Technology is available at http://www.texassciencesummit.org.

Contact: Will Sansom