Two McGovern Medical School faculty were among those receiving UTHealth’s highest awards for research and teaching.
John D. Reveille, M.D., and Heinrich Taegtmeyer, M.D., D.Phil., recently received the President’s Scholar Awards for Research. Margaret O’Brien Caughy, Sc.D., interim regional dean of the UTHealth School of Public Health in Dallas, received the President’s Scholar Award for Teaching.
“Drs. Reveille, Taegtmeyer, and Caughy were selected from a field of superb nominations and are richly deserving of this honor,” said Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., UTHealth president and Alkek-Williams Distinguished Chair.
The selection for the research honorees centers on research quality and importance, productivity and peer recognition. The criteria for the teaching award encompass published works in teaching, enthusiasm, innovation, teaching-related mentoring activities, and peer and student recognition.
“These awards have special meaning because the recipients have been selected by their peers,” said Michael R. Blackburn, Ph.D., executive vice president and chief academic officer of UTHealth and dean of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. “The awards recognize those who have achieved a level of excellence in discovery and education, and this year’s recipients are truly extraordinary in those regards.”
“One of his nominators and mentors, Dr. Frank Arnett, summed up Dr. Reveille’s research contributions very well,” said George M. Stancel, Ph.D., executive vice president for academic and research affairs and Roger. J. Bulger, M.D., Distinguished Professor. “He said, ‘Reveille has made seminal contributions to understanding the genetic basis for many of our diseases including lupus, rheumatoid and Sjorgren syndrome, with his recent attention turning toward ankylosing spondylitis and other spondyloarthropathies. He has been productive to the point of becoming the world’s expert on these disorders having discovered the non-HLA genes predisposing to AS.’”
Reveille is the director of the Frank C. Arnett, M.D., Center for Autoimmunity and Immunobiology, division director of rheumatology and vice chair for research in the Department of Internal Medicine. He also holds the Linda and Ronny Finger Foundation Distinguished Chair in Neuroimmunologic Disorders.
Reveille credited Arnett for the award. “If it hadn’t been for Dr. Arnett,” he said, “I wouldn’t have been an academician. He recruited me to UTHealth and presented the academic career as a quest. That has been my guiding principle ever since.”
Reveille has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Arthritis Foundation since 1988.
“The national and international acclaim that Dr. Reveille has brought UTHealth is incalculable through not only his research but his leadership and partnership,” Stancel said. “Yet, as one nominator put it, since 1991, he still sees up to 25 patients twice a month at the rheumatology clinic he established at the largest outpatient HIV clinic in the U.S., the Thomas Street Clinic.”
Upon receiving the award, Reveille noted that he had spent the morning at the Thomas Street Clinic, seeing patients and could not think of a better way to spend his time. “I have stayed at UTHealth throughout my career because of the tremendous opportunities that are afforded here,” Reveille said . “There are few things in life more exciting than finding something no one else has, to be part of a paradigm shifter. That couldn’t have happened at any other institution, with any other mentor.”
Taegtmeyer is professor of medicine, co-director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and holds a cross-appointment at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. He also is on staff at the Texas Heart Institute and is co-director of the Metabolomics Core Laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine.
“Dr. Taegtmeyer’s research on cellular and cardiomyocyte metabolism and the impact of diabetes on left ventricle hypertrophy and the effects such disease processes have on human pathophysiology has garnered significant attention for UTHealth for fundamental discoveries which inform today’s work in cardiac metabolism,” Stancel said.
While accepting the award, Taegtmeyer said, “I would like to recognize all the great teachers at each station of my life, going all the way back to elementary school when our teacher took the class once a week on a hike through the forest because there were no classrooms. As a student, resident and fellow, I had phenomenal teachers in Freiburg (especially, Albrecht Fleckenstein and Hermann Antoni), Boston (especially, Edmund Sonnenblick and Michael Lesch), and Oxford (Hans Krebs and Reginald Hems).”
Taegtmeyer has published close to 300 original research articles in such august journals as Nature Medicine, Science Translational Medicine, JCI, Circulation and Circulation Research and has been cited just shy of 10,000 times. He has trained more than 100 graduate and medical students, postdocs and clinical fellows, resulting in more than a few full professors and department chairs.
One nominator wrote, “Few people in cardiovascular field can indeed match, let along surpass, Dr. Taegtmeyer’s contributions to advancing the careers of young investigators.”
“It is all about building bridges,” Taegtmeyer said. “A year ago I visited with the late Dr. Duke to rehearse with him an address to the incoming class of medical students. Afterwards, we talked about building bridges. Dr. Duke, a lifelong Aggie, who did most of his life’s work at UT, I am a lifelong German, who did also most of my life’s work at UT. We both agreed on the need to build more bridges between the practice of research and the practice of medicine. The future of medicine belongs to those who can build those bridges.”