May 23, 2018 – Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI), today became the University’s newest Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator.
Dr. DeBerardinis is Chief of the Division of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism at UT Southwestern and an attending physician at Children’s Health. He is also a Professor of Pediatrics and member of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development at UT Southwestern. His selection makes him one of a select group of 19 distinguished biomedical scientists named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators this year and brings to 15 the number at UT Southwestern, which leads the state in HHMI investigators. HHMI is a philanthropic organization created to advance basic biomedical research and science education for the benefit of humanity.
Each of the 19 new investigators will receive roughly $8 million over a seven-year term, which is renewable pending a scientific review.
“We are delighted that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has recognized the significance of Dr. DeBerardinis’ research accomplishments and his promise to make important advances in the future. His efforts have already led to important new insights into distinctive alterations in the metabolic pathways in cancer cells,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern.
“We are confident that his laboratory will build on this foundation with the opportunity it offers to establish new paradigms for therapeutic strategies,” added Dr. Podolsky, 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.
Notably, the DeBerardinis laboratory found that lactate provides fuel for growing lung tumors, a finding that challenges a nearly century-old observation known as the Warburg effect, which had called lactate a waste product of tumor metabolism. Dr. DeBerardinis’ finding provides a novel perspective on cancer metabolism and opens new avenues for the study of potential therapeutics, as well as new imaging techniques in lung cancer, the world’s leading cause of cancer deaths.
Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of the CRI, a Professor of Pediatrics, and an HHMI Investigator, said, “Ralph is an outstanding scientist and a leader in the areas of cancer metabolism and the treatment of inborn errors of metabolism in children. I’m not surprised that HHMI selected him as one of the very best scientists in the country. CRI will continue to build around his work as we search for new treatments for cancer and inborn errors of metabolism.” Dr. Morrison is a CPRIT Scholar and holder of the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at CRI and the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics at UT Southwestern.
“My lab and I are so grateful to be recognized by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. We’re delighted that HHMI appreciates our research in human metabolic diseases. I am also grateful to Dr. Sean Morrison for recruiting me to CRI and creating a culture that cultivates doing risky, cutting-edge research,” said Dr. DeBerardinis, who holds the Joel B. Steinberg, M.D. Chair in Pediatrics and is a Sowell Family Scholar in Medical Research and the Robert L. Moody, Sr. Faculty Scholar. “The CRI and UT Southwestern are outstanding environments for collaborative research. My work would not be possible without a large team of collaborators, including Dr. Kemp Kernstine, Dr. Craig Malloy, and Dr. John Minna of UT Southwestern. Their contributions and insights over many years have enabled our discoveries.”
Dr. Kernstine, Professor and Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery, holds the Robert Tucker Hayes Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Surgery; Dr. Malloy, Professor and Director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center, holds the Richard A. Lange, M.D. Chair in Cardiology; Dr. Minna, Director of the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research and Professor of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology, holds the Max L. Thomas Distinguished Chair in Molecular Pulmonary Oncology, and the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research.
Dr. DeBerardinis earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and was the first trainee in the combined Pediatrics and Medical Genetics residency program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he received several awards for teaching and clinical care. He completed his postdoctoral research in Dr. Craig Thompson’s laboratory in the Penn Cancer Center and joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2008. Dr. DeBerardinis joined CRI soon after its founding in 2012 and became Director of CRI’s Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program in 2014.
Other HHMI Investigators at UT Southwestern:
- Zhijian “James” Chen, Director of the Center for Inflammation Research, Professor of Molecular Biology and in the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, who holds the George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science.
- Nick Grishin, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and a Virginia Murchison Linthicum Scholar in Biomedical Research, who holds the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Chair in Biomedical Science.
- Helen Hobbs, Director of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development and Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics, who 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.
- Lora V. Hooper, Professor and Chairman of Immunology, Microbiology, and with the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, who holds the Jonathan W. Uhr, M.D. Distinguished Chair in Immunology and is a Nancy Cain and Jeffrey A. Marcus Scholar in Medical Research, in Honor of Dr. Bill S. Vowell.
- Youxing Jiang, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, and a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research.
- Beth Levine, Director of the Center for Autophagy Research and Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology, who holds the Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science.
- David Mangelsdorf, Professor and Chairman of Pharmacology and Professor of Biochemistry, who holds the Alfred G. Gilman Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology and the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Molecular Neuropharmacology in Honor of Harold B. Crasilneck, Ph.D.
- Joshua Mendell, Professor of Molecular Biology and a CPRIT Scholar.
- Sean Morrison, Director of CRI and Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern, who holds the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics. Dr. Morrison is a CPRIT Scholar who holds the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at CRI
- Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, who holds the Earl A. Forsythe Chair in Biomedical Science and is a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research.
- Duojia Pan, Professor and Chairman of Physiology, who holds the Fouad A. and Val Imm Bashour Distinguished Chair in Physiology.
- Michael K. Rosen, Professor and Chairman of Biophysics and with the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational, and Systems Biology, who holds the Mar Nell and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry.
- Joseph Takahashi, Professor and Chairman of Neuroscience, who holds the Loyd B. Sands Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience.
- Hongtao Yu, Professor of Pharmacology and a Michael L. Rosenberg Scholar in Medical Research, who holds The Serena S. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Cancer Immunopharmacology.
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.
Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) is a joint venture of UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center Dallas, the flagship hospital of Children’s Health. CRI’s mission is to perform transformative biomedical research to better understand the biological basis of disease. Located in Dallas, Texas, CRI is home to interdisciplinary groups of scientists and physicians pursuing research at the interface of regenerative medicine, cancer biology, and metabolism. For more information, visit: cri.utsw.edu. To support CRI, visit: cri.utsw.edu/support/