<img src="images/alt_swf_content.jpg" alt="Department of Molecular Medicine, Institute of Biotechnology, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio" />

Welcome to the Department of Molecular Medicine/Institute of Biotechnology


The Department of Molecular Medicine in the Institute of Biotechnology (IBT) was established in 1994 to administer a program to train graduate students at the interface of basic and clinical sciences with an emphasis on biomedical research focused on discovering the molecular mechanisms underlying human disease and to serve as a platform for the development of novel treatment or prevention approaches. To date, our program has awarded over 120 doctoral degrees. Our graduates are placed in top-tier research universities and pharmaceutical companies across the United States and Europe. Our faculty have been successful in securing tens of millions of dollars from private and federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense.

Now also located in the South Texas Research Facility (STRF), we offer a research-oriented, interdisciplinary program of study in the areas of cancer and aging and their prevention. Specific areas of study include: cell (and hormone) signaling, gene expression, epigenetics, cell cycle and checkpoint controls, DNA damage repair and associated stress responses, and regulated protein turnover. Under new leadership, Dr. Tim Huang is expanding our research to include a “Systems” approach to molecular medicine that offers students an integrated training program spanning molecular and cellular biology, quantitative biology, computational biology, and genomics.

Our goal is to educate and train the next generation of graduate students who will change the face of biomedical research and invent new ways to treat and prevent human diseases.

Molecular Medicine in the News

Uncovering clues in BRCA1 breast cancer gene

Dr. Rong Li and his colleagues are changing the paradigm of how BRCA1 suppresses tumors

When Rong Li, Ph.D., transferred his laboratory to UT Health San Antonio, he finally felt he was making real progress in breast cancer research.

“I was trained as a molecular biologist, and I studied the fundamental cellular processes in a lab setting,” says Li, a professor of molecular medicine who left his faculty position at the University of Virginia in 2007. “But I felt unsatisfied because I wanted to connect my lab findings more closely to human health.”

At UT Health, he found the opportunity to collaborate with physician scientists, both at the international level and closer to home. UT Health breast oncologists Ismail Jatoi, M.D., and Richard Elledge, M.D., as well as plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Howard Wang, M.D., have offered cross-disciplinary support, and some of their patients donate breast tissue samples for Li’s research.

Over the past 11 years at UT Health, Li has made several advances toward improved treatment options and prevention tools for breast cancer through his research of the gene BRCA1. Scientists now know that women who have a BRCA1 mutation have a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer than women who have a functional gene. What’s interesting, Li says, is that the mutated BRCA1 gene is within every cell in the body, but the risk of cancer increases only in the breasts and ovaries, and only in women—men with a mutated BRCA1 gene do not have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Therefore, the connection between BRCA1 and cancer appears to be tissue- and gender-specific. But why?

The story is continued here!

Recent Publications with High Impact Factors

Horning AM, Wang Y, Lin CK, Louie AD, Jadhav RR, Hung CN, Wang CM, Lin CL, Kirma NB, Liss MA, Kumar AP, Sun L, Liu Z, Chao WT, Wang Q, Jin VX, Chen CL, Huang TH. (Co-correspondent) 2017. Single-cell RNA-seq reveals a subpopulation of prostate cancer cells with enhanced cell cycle-related transcription and attenuated androgen response. Cancer Res. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-1924.

#Morita M, Prudent J, Basu K, Goyon V, Katsumura S, Hulea L, Pearl D, Siddiqui N, Strack S, McGuirk S, St-Pierre J, Larsson O, Topisirovic I, Vali H, #McBride HM, #Bergeron JJ, #Sonenberg N. mTOR Controls Mitochondrial Dynamics and Cell Survival via MTFP1. Molecular cell. 2017;67(6):922-35 e5. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2017.08.013. PubMed PMID: 28918902. #Co-Corresponding authors.

Xiaowen Zhang, Huai-Chin Chiang, Yao Wang, Chi Zhang, Sabrina Smith, Xiayan Zhao, Sreejith J. Nair, Joel Michalek, Ismail Jatoi, Meeghan Lautner, Boyce Oliver, Howard Wang, Anna Petit, Teresa Soler, Joan Brunet, Francesca Mateo, Miguel Angel Pujana, Elizabeth Poggi, Krysta Chaldekas, Claudine Isaacs, Beth N. Peshkin, Oscar Ochoa, Frederic Chedin, Constantine Theoharis, Lu-Zhe Sun, Tyler J. Curiel, Richard Elledge, Victor X. Jin, Yanfen Hu & Rong Li. (2017). Attenuation of RNA polymerase II pausing mitigates BRCA1-associated R-loop accumulation and tumorigenesis. Nature Communications. 8, 15908 doi:10.1038/ncomms15908.

Araki, K., Morita, M., Bederman, A. G., Konieczny, B. T., Kissick, H. T., Sonenberg, N., & Ahmed, R. (2017). Translation is actively regulated during the differentiation of CD8 effector T cells. Nature Immunology. doi:10.1038/ni.3795

Hsu Y-T, Osmulski, P.A., Wang Y., Huang Y-W, Liu L., Ruan J., Jin V.X., B. Kirma N.B., Gaczynska M. E., and Huang T. H-M (2017) EGFR-Dependent Regulated Intramembrane Proteolysis of EpCAM-Response. Cancer Res. 77 (7):1777.

Huang RL, Su PH, Liao YP, Wu TI, Hsu YT, Lin WY, Wang HC, Weng YC, Ou YC, Huang TH, Lai HC (2017) Integrated Epigenomics Analysis Reveals a DNA Methylation Panel for Endometrial Cancer Detection Using Cervical Scrapings. Clin Cancer Res 23(1):263-272.

Noonepalle SK, Gu F, Lee EJ, Choi JH, Han Q, Kim J, Ouzounova M, Shull AY, Pei P, Hsu PY, Kolhe R, Shi F, Choi J, Chiou K, Huang HM, Korkaya H, Deng L, Xin HB, Huang S, Thangaraju M, Sreekumar A, Ambs S, Tang SC, Munn DH, Shi H (2017) Promoter Methylation Modulates Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase 1 Induction by Activated T Cells in Human Breast Cancers. Cancer Immunology Research 5 (4) 330-344

Recently Awarded Grants

Combating protein-misfolding diseases
William & Ella Owens Foundation of America, 3/1/18, $100,000
Hai Rao, Ph.D.

Understanding Drug Resistance in BRCA1 Associated Cancer Therapy
Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 9/30/17, $583,314
Yanfen Hu, Ph.D.

Understanding Drug Resistance in BRCA1 Associated Cancer Therapy
Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 9/30/17, $331,689
Rong Li, Ph.D.

Primary fibroblast resilience as a predictor of health and lifespan in mice
NIH – National Institute on Aging, 9/15/17, $1,546,980
Adam Salmon, Ph.D.

A chemical strategy to promote EGFR degradation
Cancer Prevention Institute of Texas, 9/1/17, $200,000
Hai Rao, Ph.D.

A Dual Function Switch in reproductive biology
NIH - National Cancer Institute, 8/1/17, $228,750
Rong Li, Ph.D. and Yanfen Hu, Ph.D.

Crosstalk between BRCA1 and transcription in breast cancer
NIH - National Cancer Institute, 7/10/17, $411,463
Rong Li, Ph.D.

Targeting Enhancer Activation Machinery in Breast Cancer Hormone Resistance
Voelcker Fund, 7/1/17, $450,000
Zhijie Liu, Ph.D.

Systems Analysis of Epigenomic Architecture in Cancer Progression
NIH - National Cancer Institute, 5/15/17, $9,119,402
Tim Huang, Ph.D.& Victor Jin, Ph.D.

Precision Targeting of MED12-Mutant CLL with Notch Inhibitors
William & Ella Owens Foundation of America, 3/15/17, $100,000
Thomas Boyer, Ph.D.

Regulation of ER-Beta Signaling in Carcinogenesis
NIH - National Cancer Institute, 2/1/17, $2,397,840
Rong Li, Ph.D.

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