UT Southwestern Friends award research grants

Dr. Baojin Ding

Dr. Milo M. Lin

Dr. Aditya Bagrodia

Dr. Kathryn O'Donnell-Mendell

By Sharon Reynolds

Four investigators received early career research awards from the UT Southwestern Circle of Friends to further scientific advancement in the fields of Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Funds raised by Friends of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and Friends of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center will support promising UT Southwestern clinician-scientists. This seed funding is critical to spurring new and creative approaches to solving long-standing challenges, especially for early career researchers for whom securing larger research funding from entities such as the National Institutes of Health is typically challenging. Those awarded funding are:

  • Dr. Baojin Ding, Assistant Instructor of Molecular Biology, who received $65,000 to study nuclear transport in human neurological diseases. Results will provide new insights into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and potentially lead to molecular targets for new treatments.
  • Dr. Milo M. Lin, Assistant Professor of Biophysics and in the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational, and Systems Biology, who received $65,000 to study atomic structures of protein fragments associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This study is a critical step in understanding the initiation and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Dr. Aditya Bagrodia, Assistant Professor of Urology, who received $50,000 to study the reasons for resistance to cisplatin, one of the most commonly used drugs in cancer treatment. This research could fundamentally change the way patients are selected for cisplatin-based chemotherapy and also allow for new treatment options for patients with cisplatin-resistant tumors.
  • Dr. Kathryn O’Donnell-Mendell, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology, who received $50,000 to study proteins on the surface of lung cancer cells, potentially leading to improved cancer treatments. This research will ultimately provide new opportunities to enhance the ability to harness the immune system to treat patients with lung and possibly other cancers.

The UT Southwestern Friends groups are donors who have generously supported early career scientists since 1985. In late 2016, the Institution combined individual Friends groups into one cohesive group – the UT Southwestern Circle of Friends. This new model has proved successful, creating more diverse experiences for passionate supporters of discovery and healing.

“It is very rewarding for Circle of Friends members to engage with the next generation of researchers,” said John Levy, Co-Chair of the UT Southwestern Circle of Friends. “Our members get a better understanding of the work that is happening inside UT Southwestern laboratories and the potential impact these research projects can have on humankind.”

“The quality of grant requests we review each year is outstanding,” said Bonnie Smith, Circle of Friends Steering Committee Member. “We are delighted to provide seed funding for these young researchers who may discover the key to eradicating or halting intractable diseases.”

Circle of Friends members enjoy engaging programming and unique opportunities for behind-the-scenes looks into the research engine that drives innovative clinical care at UT Southwestern. Since January, the Friends have raised more than $380,000 for new grants to be distributed in 2018.

“We are deeply grateful for the support and advocacy of the members in our Circle of Friends,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “They have been instrumental in engaging community members to support our brightest clinician-scientists and their promising research efforts.”

To learn more about the Circle of Friends, visit donate.utsouthwestern.edu/friends or call the UT Southwestern Office of Development and Alumni Relations at 214-648-2344.

Dr. Bagrodia is a Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care.

Dr. Lin is a Cecil H. and Ida Green Endowed Scholar in Biomedical Computational Science.

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.