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National Kidney Foundation honors UTHSC scientist

The National Kidney Foundation has selected Zheng Dong, Ph.D., of San Antonio as its 2001 Patricia W. Robinson Young Investigator. Dr. Dong, assistant professor of pathology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC), will receive $90,000 to further his research.

Dr. Dong is studying cells’ response to hypoxia, a condition of reduced availability of oxygen. Hypoxia plays an important role in the processes underlying a variety of diseases, from cancer and acute renal failure to heart attack and stroke.

By comparing cells that die during oxygen deprivation with those that adapt and survive, Dr. Dong hopes to contribute understandings of cell death under hypoxia. “Recently we have demonstrated the regulation of genes that are directly involved in cell injury and its prevention,” he said. “These findings are unprecedented and may provide a theoretical basis for development of drugs and other interventions that would reduce hypoxia-related disease development.”

The Texas Advanced Research Program and the American Heart Association support Dr. Dong’s research, and a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health begins in July. “I feel highly honored by the title bestowed by the National Kidney Foundation,” he said, “and I am very grateful for NKF’s generous support of my research on kidney diseases.”

“Dr. Dong is an outstanding young scientist who has developed a superb track record in a highly competitive field,” said Robert L. Reddick, M.D., chairman of pathology at UTHSC.

Dr. Dong received his doctorate in 1994 from the Shanghai Institute of Physiology of the Chinese National Academy of Sciences. “He is an extraordinary young scientist,” said his research mentor, Manjeri Venkatachalam, M.B., B.S., professor of pathology at the Health Science Center. “It comes as no surprise that his work is being recognized in this country with national awards.”

Dr. Dong recently received the prestigious Lyndon Baines Johnson Research Award from the American Heart Association, Texas Affiliate.

Contact: Will Sansom