The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST recognized UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Drs. Zhijian “James” Chen and David Mangelsdorf in 2007 as two of the state’s top rising stars in research.
Dr. Mangelsdorf, Chair of Pharmacology, and Dr. Chen received Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards from the academy at its annual conference in Austin. Each year, the awards honor three outstanding, up-and-coming researchers in science, medicine and engineering and their work. Each O’Donnell Award consists of a $25,000 honorarium, a citation and an inscribed statue.
Dr. Mangelsdorf received the award for medicine and Dr. Chen received the award for science.
Dr. Mangelsdorf’s work on “orphan receptors” – molecules in cells whose action and function are unknown – might lead to novel drugs for a wide variety of diseases.
Imagine a room full of marvelous machines, each of which has an ignition switch to start it. But without the keys, there’s no way to activate the gizmos to find out what they do. In the body, molecular switches called receptors are activated by “keys,” called ligands.
He has identified the ligands to several orphan receptors, opening the door to developing drugs that could fight conditions as varied as cardiovascular disease and hookworm infection.