Dr. Sidney Wang
Dr. Sidney Wang

The University of Texas (UT) System has recruited another rising ‘star’ into the fold at McGovern Medical School, welcoming a new faculty member to the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine who aims to connect phenotype to genotype through understanding gene regulation and develop genomics tools that can be applied to investigations in his own lab and beyond.

Dr. Sidney Hsiming Wang joined the Center for Human Genetics at McGovern Medical School this past year from the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago, where he was a postdoctoral fellow. He was the top candidate of 50 faculty applicants reviewed by the Center for Human Genetics faculty research search committee.

The UT System Board of Regents created the Faculty Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention (STARs) Program in 2004 to help UT institutions attract and retain outstanding faculty. Awards, which can be used to purchase equipment and renovate facilities, require institutional support and are available to support the recruitment of tenure-track faculty members at any rank.

Highly motivated and productive, Wang has published work in PNAS, PLoS One and Science. He is also first author on papers published in eLife. Wang graduated from National Dong Hwa University in 2003 with a bachelor’s of science in life science and double majored in physics. He obtained a Ph.D in 2012 from Washington University in St. Louis in the laboratory of the distinguished Dr. Sarah Elgin. Wang’s research there focused on the role of RNAi to modulate heterochromatin formation and helped establish the role of Piwi, an Argonaute protein that plays an important regulatory role in driving transcriptional silencing of transposons.

Wang also worked under Dr. Yoav Gilad while pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. The work he completed there helped establish the role of RNA in genome-wide processes that coordinate protein translation and produced a major advance in the global investigation of the role of regulatory variation in the genomic control of protein translation that resulted in his first co-authorship of a paper in Science.

Wang also developed riboHMM, a novel method for analyzing ribosome profiling data, which enabled him and his colleagues to find thousands of novel coding regions in the human genome. He was the recipient of the Howard A. Schneiderman Fellowship in 2012 and the Genetics Retreat Talk Award in 2010 at Washington University and an Academics Excellence Award in 2010 from National Dong Hwa University.

At McGovern Medical School, Wang plans to combine his skill sets to provide context-dependent functional interpretations for genetic variants in human populations, using genomics approaches to guide specific reverse genetics studies. Additionally, he aims to develop genomics tools to address the needs of ongoing investigations in the lab and for the field in general.

“Dr. Wang’s recruitment represents a unique opportunity to bring his novel and highly innovative research program to both the McGovern Medical School, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and more broadly to the larger Texas Medical Center, and investigators at other University of Texas System components,” Patrick Francis, associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs, said.

“I am confident that my experience and vision will position my lab at the forefront of exciting discoveries,” Wang said in his research statement.