Future Magazine

Future is the official magazine of the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Read and share inspiring stories highlighting our medical alumni, faculty and students who are revolutionizing education, research, patient care and critical services in the communities they serve.

Researcher Profiles

James D. Lechleiter, PhD, with Deborah Holstein, senior research associate, and doctoral graduate student Damian Lozano viewing a computer monitor in a lab.

Preventing permanent brain injury after stroke

In the early 2000s, James Lechleiter’s lab at UT Health San Antonio was doing basic research focused on astrocytes, the star-shaped cells that do everything from managing neurotransmitters to clearing debris to regulating blood flow in the brain. What they discovered led to a potential novel finding, and he has spent the last 16 years investigating it.

Ali Seifi, MD (center), with MS graduate students (from left to right) Alexis Lorio (Class of 2024), Hari Krishnakumar (Class of 2024), Ellen Burton (Class of 2024) and Shwetha Menon (Class of 2023) standing in Seifi's lab.

Kickstarting a cure for hiccups

For years, Ali Seifi could not get the idea of curing hiccups out of his mind. He spent hours daydreaming of air pressure, flow, enervation and throat tissue flaps. Finally, after talking with a patient who had been up all night with hiccups after surgery, Seifi decided to turn his idea into a working prototype.

Bradley Brimhall, MD, with Yi Zhou, MD, clinical informatics fellow, and Ashley Windham, MD, MSDA, associate professor, around a microscope in Brimhall's lab.

Harnessing AI to optimize patient treatments

Bradley Brimhall and collaborative teams of researchers are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and predictive modeling to develop leading-edge diagnostics. The use of AI in medical decision-making is the future, and physicians can lead that change or be swept before it.

Daohong Zhou, MD, with graduate student Jing Pei and research assistant professors Dongwen Lyu, PhD, MS (seated) and Sajid Khan, PhD, looking at a computer monitor in Zhou's lab.

Breaking cancer’s will to survive

The search for a novel compound on which to design a first-in-class cancer therapy is a long, arduous process. Daohong Zhou evaluated hundreds of compounds synthesized by the team of Guangrong Zheng, PhD, a medicinal chemist who specializes in the design and synthesis of natural and synthetic compounds at the University of Florida. Zhou and his team were looking for a compound that degraded a cancer’s survival signal, termed BCL-xL, without being toxic to blood platelets.

Ratna K. Vadlamudi, PhD (second from right), with (from left to right) Xiaonan Li, MD, research associate; Behnam Ebrahimi, MS, PhD program graduate student; Suryavathi Viswanadhapalli, PhD, assistant professor; Alexia Collier, NIH postbaccalaureate trainee; Xue Yang, visiting MD student; and Lois Randolph, PhD program graduate student, in Vadlamudi's lab.

Hitting triple-negative breast cancer where it hurts

Ratna Vadlamudi had a long collaboration with other University of Texas System schools to discover novel drugs to treat breast cancer. During the lead optimization process of designing a drug candidate, Vadlamudi and his team discovered a small molecule that was highly active against solid cancers — ERX-41. The discovery identified a novel therapeutic vulnerability and targeting agent that kills a range of hard-to-treat cancer types in petri dishes and animal models.

Virginia Kaklamani, MD, DSc, treats a patient in her clinic.

Repurposing approved drugs for new therapies

One way to short-circuit the “valley of death” is to repurpose an approved drug for a new indication. The Food and Drug Administration has approved more than 20,000 drugs, and these drugs have demonstrated safety and efficacy in human trials. This population of proven compounds also offers researchers rich data sets to discover new indications for these drugs.

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