Ann Griffith in lab

Championing rising investigators

Ann Griffith in lab

Ann Griffith, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, is one of six UT Health San Antonio researchers to receive a 2017 Voelcker Fund Young Investigator Award.

Trustees of the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund approved more than $2.3 million in new research funding for rising investigators at UT Health San Antonio.

The Voelcker Fund Young Investigator Awards will provide $150,000 a year through 2019 to five faculty. A sixth award of $75,000 will support a one-year pilot study.

The 2017 Voelcker Fund Young Investigator Award recipients are below:

Ann Griffith, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, is studying how radiation and chemotherapies damage connective tissue cells in the thymus, a gland that aids in producing immunity. Her project will test whether adding dietary antioxidants during radiation or chemotherapy can boost thymus and T cell recovery.

Zhijie “Jason” Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular medicine, is studying mechanisms of hormone resistance in breast cancer and the role of estrogen receptor-bound enhancers.

Andrew Pickering, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular medicine and member of the Sam & Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies, is studying a gene called TXNRD2 as a novel pharmacological target to improve heart function.

Gangadhara Sareddy, Ph.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, studies hormonal and epigenetic signaling involved in the progression of ovarian cancer, breast cancer and glioblastoma. His project will also focus on two epigenetic drugs as a novel therapeutic approach to treat glioblastomas, the deadliest of brain tumors.

Alexei Tumanov, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, seeks to understand the fundamental mechanisms of immune regulation of colorectal cancer to develop new immunotherapeutic treatments.

April Risinger, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology, will work on a pilot project focusing on the molecular mechanisms of anticancer drugs called microtubule stabilizing agents.

“The Voelcker Fund medical advisory committee continues to have high praise for the quality of our researchers’ applications,” said Andrea Giuffrida, Ph.D., vice president for research. “This is a credit to our faculty and the scientific excellence of their programs.”

In addition to the Young Investigator Awards, the Voelcker Fund supports the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy, which provides an immersive biomedical research education and college preparatory program for San Antonio-area high school students, and the Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy, which is creating a network of empowered educational professionals who work collaboratively to improve math, science and health education.

Since 2007, the Voelcker Fund has awarded nearly $21 million to fund the university’s research and educational programs.

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