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Hoxhaj receives Pew Charitable Trusts research award

Gerta Hoxhaj, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Dallas, TX – June 15, 2023 – UT Southwestern faculty member, Gerta Hoxhaj, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) and of Pediatrics and Biochemistry, has been selected for prestigious Pew Charitable Trusts biomedical research program.

The Pew Charitable Trusts and The Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust chose Dr. Hoxhaj as a Pew-Stewart Scholar for Cancer Research. Now in its 10th year, the national initiative supports promising early-career scientists whose research will accelerate discovery and advance progress toward a cure for cancer. Dr. Hoxhaj is among five scholars recognized for their tremendous potential to solve some of cancer’s greatest challenges. She will receive a four-year grant of $300,000

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be selected as a Pew-Stewart Scholar,” said Dr. Hoxhaj, who is also a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Scholar and a member of UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This award recognizes the creativity and hard work of my laboratory, where we continually strive to make important contributions to our field.”

Dr. Hoxhaj’s lab studies metabolism, which she describes as a complex web of thousands of chemical reactions that generate energy to support life. A major focus in her lab is uncovering the biological roles and regulation of a molecule called NADPH.

“By donating electrons, NADPH charges a battery of biochemical reactions that protect cells from oxidative damage and facilitates their growth and survival. However, dysregulation of NADPH metabolism has been linked to several human diseases, including cancer, metabolic disorders, and neurodegeneration,” she said.

Dr. Hoxhaj’s lab is developing new biochemical and genetic approaches that allow the study of NADPH molecules in specific cellular compartments, tissues, and cancer types.

“Our ultimate goal is to gain a complete understanding of NADPH metabolism and harness this knowledge to develop new strategies to combat cancer and treat disease,” she said.

Dr. Hoxhaj received her bachelor’s degree from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, with a double major in molecular biology and genetics and chemistry. She earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry and cell signaling from the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee in Scotland. She joined UTSW in 2019.

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