The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) recently selected Dr. Joshua Mendell from UT Southwestern Medical Center, as the winner of the 2016 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine.
Dr. Mendell is a Professor of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, member of the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine and the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, both at UT Southwestern. Dr. Mendell is famous for his work on the role of noncoding RNAs in cancer and tissue regeneration. He will be honored on Jan. 21, 2016, at the TAMEST Annual Conference in Dallas.
Every year, TAMEST gives four Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards – in the fields of Medicine, Science, Engineering and Technological Innovation – in order to recognize the work of excellent Texas researchers dedicated to advance understanding of crucial, unmet medical needs. The awards comprise a $25,000 honorarium, a citation, a trophy and an invitation as a conference speaker. 2016 is the 10th year TAMEST attributes the O’Donnell awards.
“It is a fantastic honor to receive this award from the O’Donnell family and TAMEST. The members of TAMEST are role models for all scientists in Texas, and it is especially meaningful to receive recognition from this illustrious group,” stated Dr. Mendell in a UT Southwestern news release.
In 2009, Dr. Mendell published a study in Cell titled “Therapeutic microRNA Delivery Suppresses Tumorigenesis in a Murine Liver Cancer Model.” The study found suppressed levels of one noncoding RNA – microRNA 26a (miR-26a) — in mice models of liver cancer, and showed that the administration of miR-26a dramatically slowed cancer progression and even killed liver cancer cells in mice, without any harm to neighbor healthy cells and tissue. Grounded on these results, Dr. Mendell and his team established the hypothesis that microRNA replacement therapy might lead to novel treatment strategies.
Recently, Dr. Mendell and his team presented similar results in a mouse model of intestinal cancer, and reported that microRNAs played a crucial role in the healing process. What they found is that microRNAs work as brakes that regulate the quantity of protein produced, determining thus how cells respond to differed stimuli.
“These promising proof-of-concept results helped set the stage for delivery of microRNA-based therapies for cancer and other diseases that are now being tested in clinical trials,” noted Dr. Mendell.
Dr. Mendell holds an undergraduate degree in Biology from Cornell University and an MD and a PhD in Human Genetics from John Hopkins University. He joined UT Southwestern in 2011. That year, Dr. Mendell earned the title of ‘Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Scholar in Cancer Research.’