Recent accomplishments of seven UTHCT scientists noted

Monday, April 2, 2007

Seven scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler recently were recognized for accomplishments in their respective fields.

They are Malini Rajagopalan, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry; Barbara Brown-Elliott, MS, senior research scientist and supervisor of the Mycobacteria/Nocardia Laboratory; David Griffith, MD, director of Tuberculosis Services; and Sharmila Shankar, Ph.D., an instructor of biochemistry.

Also, Rakesh Srivastava, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry; Dong-Ming Su, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry; and Richard Wallace, MD, director of the Mycobacteria/Nocardia Laboratory.

Dr. Rajagopalan has been named to the AIDS-Associated Opportunistic Infections and Cancer Study Section of the Center for Scientific Review, part of the National Institutes of Health. Her term runs from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2011.

Study sections review grant applications submitted to the NIH, make recommendations on those applications to the appropriate NIH national advisory council or board, and survey the status of research in their fields of science.

“Appointment as a standing member of a study section represents peer recognition of excellence in a scientific discipline. Membership is only offered to those scientists who have demonstrated consistent quality in their work, combined with a solid record of receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health. This appointment represents clear recognition of Dr. Rajagopalan’s standing in her field,” said Steven Idell, MD, Ph.D., vice president for research at UTHSCT.

“Scientists are appointed by invitation only and must receive favorable reviews from their peers before NIH offers them an appointment. This is a hallmark of scientific accomplishment,” he added.

Dr. Srivastava is the editor of “Apoptosis, Cell Signaling, and Human Diseases, Molecular Mechanisms, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2,” recently published by Humana Press. Dr. Srivastava also is co-author of three articles in the textbook, two in collaboration with Dr. Shankar.

Both volumes focus on the role of apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in human diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Articles in the two volumes integrate the most innovative and current findings from several related scientific disciplines, such as pathology, genetics, virology, cell biology, immunology, and molecular biology.

Dr. Srivastava is serving as a member of the "Drug Discovery and Molecular Pharmacology" Study Section of the National Institutes of Health, and is also a regular study section member of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) of the Department of Defense, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. He is an expert on cancer biology, therapy and prevention.

Dr. Su will co-chair a block symposium on hematopoietic stem cells – stem cells found in the bone marrow – and microenvironments at “Immunology 2007,” the annual meeting of the American Association of Immunologists, which will be held May 18-22, 2007, in Miami Beach, Fla.

He also will present a paper at the symposium on how aging affects these kinds of stem cells. “Immunology 2007” is the premiere meeting of immunologists from all over the world.

Brown-Elliott, Dr. Griffith, and Dr. Wallace are co-authors of the American Thoracic Society and Infectious Disease Society of America’s official statement for the “Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention of Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Diseases,” which was published in February. Nontuberculous mycobacteria are common soil and water microbes that can cause disease in people.

This is a worldwide document that physicians and other medical personnel use as a guideline for determining the diagnosis, key laboratory features, prevention, and treatment of nontuberculous mycobacterial diseases.

Dr. Griffith was chairman of the committee that drafted the document and online supplement. He is medical director of the Texas Center for Infectious Disease in San Antonio, a public health hospital overseen by UTHSCT that treats patients with TB.

Dr. Wallace is professor of medicine and microbiology. Brown-Elliott is a medical technologist and is certified as a specialist in microbiology by the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

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