UT Southwestern scientist honored among best in Texas research

Dr. Michael Rosen, a professor of biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, is one of three individuals being recognized today as rising research stars in the state by the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. Dr. Rosen, who studies the structure and function of biological molecules, received one of the inaugural Edith and Peter O'Donnell Awards from the academy at its annual conference in Houston. The awards honor outstanding, up-and-coming researchers in science, medicine and engineering and their work. Each award consists of a $25,000 honorarium, a citation and an inscribed statue.

Dr. Rosen, an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, received the award for science. Drs. Yueh-Lin Loo, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Texas-Austin, and Gerard Karsenty, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, accepted the honors for engineering and medicine, respectively.

"Edith and Peter O'Donnell have provided scientific leadership in Texas for decades," Dr. Rosen said. "Their insights and generosity have played a decisive role in bringing our institutions to international prominence. I am deeply honored to be chosen by the Academy to receive this award in their name."

The Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award is named for the Dallas philanthropists who have been ardent supporters of biomedical, engineering and scientific research and education in Texas.

Dr. Rosen's research focuses on the smallest of skeletons, which are found inside every cell. The so-called cytoskeleton is responsible for helping cells move, change shape and respond to various environmental cues. The elongation of growing nerves in the right direction, for example, is dependent on adjustments in the cytoskeleton, while the cytoskeleton of immune cells can change rapidly, allowing them to squeeze through extremely narrow openings in blood vessel walls to travel to the site of infection.

Dr. Rosen's research is aimed at understanding the structural and biophysical bases of signaling pathways that regulate actin, a protein that is the basic building block of the cytoskeleton.

"Michael Rosen's vigorous approach to problems of major biological significance distinguishes him as a leader among structural biologists specifically, and all scientists generally," said Dr. Kern Wildenthal, president of UT Southwestern. "His contributions have helped lay the foundations for understanding a variety of human diseases including cancer, immune system deficiencies and infection. This is a fitting recognition of his accomplishments and the exceptional promise of his future career."

Dr. Rosen received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University in 1993. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, the Philadelphia native joined the faculty of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center before coming to UT Southwestern in 2001.

The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas was launched in 2004 by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to provide broader recognition of the state's top achievers in these fields, and to build a stronger identity for Texas as an important destination and center of achievement. The academy brings the state's top scientific, academic and corporate minds together to further position Texas as a research leader.

The academy also aims to foster the next generation of scientists, and to increase the awareness and communication among the state's best and brightest about research priorities for the future. Members of the academy include the state's 11 Nobel Laureates four of whom are active faculty members at UT Southwestern and the 200-plus Texas members of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.

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