UTHealth faculty members elected to prestigious scientific association

December 13, 2013

Two professors at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) - Barry Davis, M.D., Ph.D., and Kevin Morano, Ph.D. - have been elected fellows into the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

Davis is recognized for his leadership to advance public health and his contributions to clinical trials especially in high blood pressure and Morano for his investigations into mechanisms underlying Alzheimer's disease and other conditions.

Davis and Morano were among 388 AAAS members awarded this honor in 2013 and will be recognized on Feb. 15 at the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago. Elected by their AAAS peers, fellows are chosen based on their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

"UTHealth is proud of this national recognition for two of our exceptional scientists. This is a well-deserved honor for Drs. Morano and Davis and speaks to the caliber of science at UTHealth," said UTHealth President Giuseppe Colasurdo, M.D.

Davis, a biostatistician, led a landmark study of blood pressure medications, which found that diuretics or water pills matched or outperformed higher priced medications. More than 42,000 people participated in the study called the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT).

ALLHAT findings were confirmed in follow-up studies demonstrating that diuretics remain unsurpassed when it comes to reducing high blood pressure and preventing major complications.

Davis is the holder of the Guy S. Parcel Chair in Public Health and director of the Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials at The University of Texas School of Public Health, part of UTHealth. He received his medical degree at University of California, San Diego and his doctorate degree at Brown University.

"I am grateful to be recognized for our accomplishments in clinical trials. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with so many wonderful people at the Coordinating Center and across the country to help improve the public's health," Davis said.

Morano's research focuses on how proteins achieve their properly folded structure that allows them to perform their functions and maintain cells in a healthy state.

Much like the intricate and precise way paper is folded in origami, proteins have to be accurately folded inside cells. Many neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease are caused when proteins are not folded correctly and Morano's work contributes to understanding how this may be corrected.

"It's a great honor to be recognized for the work my students and I have been doing here at UTHealth Medical School. Most importantly, it's recognition from fellow scientists in our field, which is pretty cool," Morano said.

Morano, a microbiologist, is the director of the New Investigator Development Program at UTHealth Medical School and faculty president at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. He received his doctorate degree at the University of California, Davis, and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan.

Other UTHealth faculty members elected as AAAS fellows include: L. Maximilian Buja, M.D.; John H. "Jack" Byrne, Ph.D.; John DeMoss, Ph.D.; Carmen Dessauer, Ph.D.; Bruce C. Kone, M.D.; Frank G. Moody, M.D.; Kathleen Gibson, Ph.D.; Irma Gigli, M.D.; Sam Kaplan, Ph.D.; James Willerson, M.D.; and Jerry Wolinsky, M.D.
-end-
AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million.

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

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