Breaking News
March 24, 2019 - Combined immunosuppression may be effective, safe in treating older patients with Crohn’s disease
March 24, 2019 - GSK sells health drinks arm, buys US cancer treatment firm
March 24, 2019 - Bacteria and innate immune factors in birth canal, cervix may be key to predicting preterm births
March 24, 2019 - IgG antibodies play unexpected role in atherosclerosis
March 24, 2019 - Sounds and vibrations are quite similar for the brain, finds new study
March 24, 2019 - Practices for Reducing COPD Hospital Readmissions Explored
March 24, 2019 - Could an eye doctor diagnose Alzheimer’s before you have symptoms?
March 24, 2019 - Enzyme inhibitor stops inflammation and neurodevelopmental disorders in mouse models
March 24, 2019 - Walk, Dance, Clean: Even a Little Activity Helps You Live Longer
March 24, 2019 - Americans used less eye care in 2014 versus 2008
March 24, 2019 - Study finds link between depression in 20s linked to memory loss in 50s
March 24, 2019 - New tool helps physiotherapy students to master complex fine motor skills
March 24, 2019 - The AMR Centre secures £2.3m funding boost
March 24, 2019 - Study examines effects of taking ondansetron during first trimester of pregnancy
March 24, 2019 - Researchers identify a more effective treatment for cancer
March 24, 2019 - Open-source solution for multiparametric optical mapping of the heart’s electrical activity
March 24, 2019 - New nanotechnology approach shows promise in treating triple negative breast cancer
March 24, 2019 - Trevena Announces Publication of APOLLO-1 Results in The Journal of Pain Research Highlighting Oliceridine’s Potential for Management of Moderate-to-Severe Acute Pain
March 24, 2019 - Maternal deaths following C-section 50 times higher in Africa compared to high-income countries
March 24, 2019 - Apple watch could detect irregular heart beat says study
March 24, 2019 - Queen Mary University of London’s BCI boosts radionuclide imaging capabilities with MILabs VECTor technology
March 24, 2019 - Girls should be encouraged to gain more ball skills, shows study
March 24, 2019 - Acute doses of synthetic cannabinoid can impair critical thinking and memory
March 24, 2019 - Presence of bacteria in urine does not always point to infection, shows study
March 24, 2019 - Scientists identify a new role for nerve-supporting cells
March 24, 2019 - Hidden differences between pathology of CTE and Alzheimer’s disease discovered
March 24, 2019 - Knowing causative genes of osteoporosis may open door to more effective treatments
March 24, 2019 - Toilet-seat based cardiovascular monitoring system getting ready to begin commercialization
March 24, 2019 - New model for intensive care identifies factors that send ill patients to ICU
March 24, 2019 - Recommendations Issued for HSCT in Multiple Myeloma
March 24, 2019 - Deep brain stimulation provides sustained relief for severe depression
March 24, 2019 - “Statistical significance” may soon be a thing of past?
March 24, 2019 - Researchers track effects of epigenetic marks carried by sperm chromosomes
March 24, 2019 - AHA News: Family Adopts Three Children With Three Different Heart Conditions
March 24, 2019 - Research into opioid painkillers could provide clues for safer drug development
March 23, 2019 - Lung cancer survivor recounts her lifetime struggles
March 23, 2019 - Radial and femoral approach for PCI achieve similar results in terms of survival
March 23, 2019 - Study sheds light on the optimal timing of coronary angiography in NSTEMI patients
March 23, 2019 - Excess hormones could cause a condition that can lead to blindness in women, study finds
March 23, 2019 - Dramatic shifts in first-time opioid prescriptions bring hope, concern
March 23, 2019 - Antidepressant drugs may not work when neurons are out of shape
March 23, 2019 - TTUHSC El Paso to establish endowed chair in neurology through a major grant
March 23, 2019 - New device approved by FDA for treating patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure
March 23, 2019 - People with peripheral artery disease have lower Omega-3 Index, shows research
March 23, 2019 - Trigger warnings have minimal impact on how people respond to content, shows research
March 23, 2019 - Gilead Announces Data From Two Studies Supporting Further Development of GS-6207, a Novel, Investigational HIV-1 Capsid Inhibitor as a Component of Future Long-Acting HIV Therapies
March 23, 2019 - Selfish genetic elements amplify inflammation and age-related diseases
March 23, 2019 - Study provides new understanding of how the brain recovers from damage caused by stroke
March 23, 2019 - CRISPR/Cas libraries could revolutionize drug discovery
March 23, 2019 - Allergic reaction during pregnancy may alter sexual-development in offspring’s brain
March 23, 2019 - Seeing through a robot’s eyes helps those with profound motor impairments
March 23, 2019 - Recent research shows that ease of breastfeeding after C-section differs culturally
March 23, 2019 - Newly discovered parameters offer more control over efficient release of drugs
March 23, 2019 - ‘De-tabooing’ of abortion- Women would like more support from health care community
March 23, 2019 - Anti-TB drugs can increase susceptibility to Mtb reinfection
March 23, 2019 - New survey indicates need of attention to neglected tropical diseases
March 23, 2019 - Innovative in vitro method to develop easy-to-swallow medicine for children and older people
March 23, 2019 - Sugary drinks could raise risk of early deaths finds study
March 23, 2019 - Lian wins ENGINE grant for stem-cell-based therapy to treat Type 1 diabetes
March 23, 2019 - Overall, Physicians Are Happy and Enjoy Their Lives
March 23, 2019 - Researchers discover how blood vessels protect the brain during inflammation
March 23, 2019 - CDC study shows modest improvement in optimal hospital breastfeeding policy
March 23, 2019 - Family-based prevention program to reduce alcohol use among older teens
March 23, 2019 - Remote monitoring of implanted defibrillators in heart failure patients prevents hospitalizations
March 23, 2019 - Appropriate doffing of personal protective equipment may reduce healthcare worker contamination
March 23, 2019 - Window screens can suppress mosquito populations, reduce malaria in Tanzania
March 23, 2019 - Researchers discover new biomarker for postoperative liver dysfunction
March 23, 2019 - Pregnancy history may be linked to cognitive function in older women, finds study
March 23, 2019 - Study shows ticagrelor is equally safe and effective as clopidogrel after heart attack
March 23, 2019 - FDA Approves First Drug for Postpartum Depression, Zulresso (brexanolone)
March 23, 2019 - New guidelines outline new treatment management for psoriasis
March 23, 2019 - Thermally abused cooking oil may promote progression of breast cancer
March 23, 2019 - High-fructose corn syrup fuels growth of colon tumors in mice
March 23, 2019 - Partnership aims at establishing best practices to promote diversity in clinical trials
March 23, 2019 - New study examines presence of microbes in tap water from residences, office buildings
March 23, 2019 - Early life trauma may affect brain structure, contribute to major depressive disorder
March 23, 2019 - NIH starts clinical trial of drug to treat cravings associated with opioid use disorder
March 23, 2019 - Cervix bacteria, immune factors could be a warning signal of premature birth, reports new research
March 23, 2019 - Worst-ever emergency care performance figures underscore the need to focus on staffing
March 23, 2019 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Cancer
UT Southwestern biochemist receives 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for innate immunity discovery

UT Southwestern biochemist receives 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for innate immunity discovery

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

UT Southwestern biochemist Dr. Zhijian “James” Chen today was named winner of the prestigious 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his discovery of the cGAS enzyme that launches the body’s immune defense against infections and cancers. That enzyme patrols the cell’s interior and triggers the immune system in response to DNA.

The four 2019 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences, plus prizes in physics and mathematics, will be presented during a live, globally televised awards ceremony in Silicon Valley on Nov. 4. The international award program, founded in 2013, is sponsored by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki. Winners receive $3 million each.

Dr. Chen’s 2012 discovery of the enzyme cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) solved a century-old medical mystery. DNA was known to activate the immune system long before its role as a genetic material was understood. In 1908, a Nobel Laureate noted in his acceptance speech that surgeons in Europe treated patients with DNA to boost their patients’ defense against infections. Dr. Chen’s biochemical investigations revealed the pathway underlying that response.

The innate immunity sensor cGAS discovered in the Chen laboratory sounds the alarm when it encounters DNA – either from pathogens or from the body’s own cells in the case of autoimmune disease – in areas of the cell where that genetic material should not be. Dr. Chen also identified the small molecule cGAMP, which is produced by the enzyme cGAS and acts as a secondary messenger in the innate immune system.

The body has two immune systems: an inborn, or innate, immune system that is activated when cells in the body initially encounter an invading pathogen and an adaptive immune system that deploys specialized cells that execute a long-term response.

“This award recognizes Dr. Chen’s outstanding research that elucidates the fundamental mechanisms of innate immunity, the body’s first, generalized response to infection,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, who 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. “His work has advanced our understanding of the relationship between the body’s immune defense system and autoimmune disease as well as how this immunity pathway is linked to the development of cancer, cellular aging, and Parkinson’s disease.”

Dr. Chen’s other important contributions include the discovery of MAVS (mitochondrial antiviral signaling) protein, which plays a pivotal role in immune defense against RNA viruses such as those that cause influenza, hepatitis C, and Zika. He also discovered the key functions of a small protein called ubiquitin in regulating immune and inflammatory responses.

Dr. Chen, Professor of Molecular Biology and Director of the Center for Inflammation Research at UT Southwestern as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, said he was “totally shocked and thrilled” when informed he would receive the prize.

“This is a wonderful recognition and endorsement of the discoveries made by the talented and dedicated students and research scientists in my lab here at UT Southwestern,” he said. “The highly supportive and nurturing environment at UT Southwestern has made it possible for us to focus on making original discoveries that are impactful. I am very grateful to the strong leadership at UT Southwestern that truly values science and scientists. It’s my privilege to work in this exceptional institution and to be constantly inspired by my scientific mentors and heroes on our campus.”

Dr. Chen, who holds the George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science, is the second UT Southwestern faculty member to win the Breakthrough Prize.

Raised in Anxi County, China, Dr. Chen received his B.S. degree in biology at Fujian Normal University and then earned a scholarship to study in the United States, which led to a Ph.D. in biochemistry from State University of New York at Buffalo.

Dr. Chen is also a member of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense led by Dr. Bruce Beutler, who shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on innate immunity. Dr. Beutler holds the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research, in Honor of Laverne and Raymond Willie, Sr.

Dr. Chen’s honors have multiplied since his arrival at UT Southwestern in 1997 and include the Searle Scholar Award (1998), The Welch Foundation Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research (2005), the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Science by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (2007), the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology (2012), the Merck Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2015), and the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences (2018). Dr. Chen was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2014. Dr. Chen’s work includes more than $5 million in support from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

UT Southwestern’s first Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences recipient was geneticist Dr. Helen Hobbs (2016). She received the award in recognition of transformative genetics research techniques she developed and used to identify key genes involved in lipid metabolism and fatty liver disease.

Dr. Hobbs is Director of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics at UT Southwestern, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. She holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished Chair for the Study of Human Growth and Development; the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Chair in Developmental Biology; and the 1995 Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiology Research.

Source:

https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/articles/year-2018/breakthrough-chen.html

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles