Dr. Sarah Huang – IMM
(Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Office of Communications)

The University of Texas (UT) System welcomes another Rising STAR to the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine, who investigates lung development and diseases.

Dr. Sarah Huang joined the IMM in 2017 from Columbia University Medical Center where she served as an associate research scientist since 2014.

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.

Huang’s expertise focuses on human pluripotent stem cells in deriving all the major classes of lung epithelial cells. She developed what is now considered the “gold standard” protocol used by several other groups in this field. Huang published this work as a first author in Nature Biotechnology and Nature Protocols in 2014-2015. She received her M.B.B.S. from Xi’an Jiaotong University College of Medicine in China in 2000 and started focusing on lung diseases after joining the master of science program at Peking University Health Science Center in Beijing. She received her PhD from Columbia University and completed postdoctoral training in Dr. Hans Snoeck’s Laboratory at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and, when the lab relocated, at Columbia University.

She later demonstrated that such derived lung epithelial cells could be used in modeling various diseases of the human lung, such as influenza. Her work demonstrating that individuals with mutations in the IRF7 gene are susceptible to severe influenza infections was published in Science in 2015. She also has been collaborating with the laboratory of Dr. Harold Varmus, the Nobel Laureate and the 14th director of the National Cancer Institute, and utilizing her differentiation protocols to establish models of human lung cancer.

Huang will use her research plan to extend this examination of severe influenza infection, and her presence adds a significant amount of expertise to the group of faculty at IMM actively working in lung development and disease.

“Dr. Huang’s recruitment represents a unique opportunity to bring her novel expertise in lung development and disease to UTHealth, in particular, and more broadly to the larger Texas Medical Center,” Patrick Francis, associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs, said in a nomination letter.