Collaborative Workshops

McGovern Medical School Research Committee has launched a series of interdisciplinary professional development workshops designed to appeal to both clinicians and basic scientists to promote collaborative research interactions across the UTHealth campus. The schedule for FY 2017 and FY 2018 is listed below:




Metabolomics in Health, Disease and Precision Medicine

Over the past two decades we have seen tremendous technological advances in genetics, transcriptomics, and proteomics.  Analysis of the metabolome provides a more complete picture of a biological phenotype than the analysis of genes, RNA and proteins.  Thus, metabolomics provides greater physiological and pathological insight by revealing a more complete phenotype that is not provided by genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics approaches.  Ongoing research is beginning to reveal specific aspects of a patient’s individual metabolome that provide a metabolic signature of health and disease.  In this way, precision metabolomics provides a metabolic snapshot of the current state of health and actionable information to inform clinical decision-making.  Pioneers in this field gather to discuss the emerging application of metabolomics and to share their cutting-edge discoveries in this workshop.

September 5, 2018
2:00 p.m. – 5:10 p.m.
MSB 2.135
Chaired by Yang Xia, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Kristin Eckel-Mahan, Ph.D.
Institute of Molecular Medicine

“A circadian metabolomics atlas reveals system-wide coordination and communication between clocks”

Zheng (Jake) Chen, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

“Circadian intervention for metabolic fitness and healthy aging”

Yang Xia, MD, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

“Erythrocyte metabolic reprogramming in normal diseases and aging”

Rebecca Berdeaux, PhD
Integrative Physiology and Pharmacology

“Kinase-mediated regulation of glucose flux: Toward identification of new diabetes drug targets”

Boyi Gan, PhD
UT MD Anderson Cancer Center

“Metabolic Regulation of Ferroptosis, Nutrient Dependency, and Tumor Suppression”

Sudden Cardiac Death

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of disability and mortality in the United States and around the world. Nearly half of the cardiovascular deaths occur instantly or shortly after first symptoms appear, referred to as sudden cardiac death (SCD), a devastating medical emergency. The current workshop will gather physicians/scientists with expertise in the basic and clinical research of SCD to speak and share their many years of experience in the pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the SCD clinical syndrome.

June 5, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 1:20 p.m.
MSB 2.135
Chaired by Yong-Jian Geng, M.D., Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine


L. Maximilian Buja, M.D. 
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

“Pathology and mechanisms of sudden cardiac death”

Yong-Jian Geng, M.D., Ph.D. 
Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine

“Apoptosis of cardiovascular cells and their progenitors: A potential trigger of sudden cardiac death”

John Higgins, M.D., MBA, MPhil

Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine

“Sudden cardiac death in young athletes”

Prakash Balan, M.D., JD,

Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine

“New strategies for improving outcomes in out-of-hospital patients with cardiac arrest”

Dianna Milewicz, M.D., Ph.D,

Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Internal Medicine

“Genetic biomarkers for sudden cardiac death”

Ramesh Hariharan, M.D.

Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine

“Abnormal electrophysiology in sudden cardiac arrest/death”

Susan Laing, M.D., MSc

Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine

“Sudden Cardiac Death and Exercise: A Case of Too Little or Too Much”

Mitochondria in Cellular Health and Organismal Disease

Mitochondria have been long thought to be relatively static organelles that supply cellular energy. While mitochondria are absolutely essential for cellular bioenergetics, emerging data indicate that mitochondria structure and function are tightly regulated and have key signaling functions within the cell.  Mitochondria are also now known to be highly dynamic organelles, the structure and function of which adapt to metabolic demands.  Moreover, disruption of mitochondrial function leads to diseases in every organ system examined. In this collaborative workshop, leaders from the TMC will discuss cutting-edge studies investigating the functional roles and regulation of mitochondria.

April 17, 2018
9:30 a.m. – 1:10 p.m.
MSB 2.135
Chaired by Rebecca Berdeaux, Integrative Biology and Pharmacology and Neal Waxham, Ph.D., Neurobiology and Anatomy


Heinrich Taegtmeyer, Ph.D.
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Internal Medicine

“The heart’s mitochondria in context”

Dale Hamilton, M.D.
Endocrinology – Houston Methodist

“Quantum biology and mitochondrial energy transfer in health and disease”

Hyun-Eui Kim, Ph.D.
Integrative Biology and Pharmacology

“Mitochondria and cellular protein homeostasis”

Kartik Venkatachalam, Ph.D.
Integrative Biology and Pharmacology

“Mitochondrial dysfunction induces neurodegeneration via ER calcium dyshomeostasis”

Mary Koenig, M.D.
Pediatrics – Neurology

“Recent clinical trials in mitochondrial myopathy”

Cryo-Electron Microscopy

Cryo-electron microscopy is transforming the field of structural biology.  Over the past 10 years, advances in specimen preparation, microscopes, detectors and image processing have led to a revolution in determining the structure of molecules in isolation and in their cellular context.  In addition to the preservation of molecules in nearly native state, the resolution now achievable is measured in angstroms, rivaling methods such as NMR and crystallography.  This workshop brings together UTHealth investigators who have applied this cutting-edge technology to understand the structure and function of macromolecules and macromolecular assemblies that underlie fundamental biological processes.

June 6, 2017
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
MSB 2.135
Chaired by Neal Waxham, Ph.D., Neurobiology and Anatomy


Irina Serysheva, Ph.D.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

“High-resolution cryo-EM studies of IP3R channel in different functional states”

William Dowhan, Ph.D.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

“Role of cardiolipin and phosphatidylglycerol in mitochondrial function”

Jun Liu, Ph.D.
Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

“High-throughput cryo-electron tomography: Imaging cells and molecules at high resolution”

William Margolin, Ph.D.
Microbiology and Molecular Medicine

“Interactions between bacterial actin and tubulin at the membrane”



Biomechanics and Tissue Engineering

Tissues and organs generally have an intrinsic capacity to repair damages caused by injury and disease. However, this capacity differs among tissues and organs, and furthermore, loss of functionality caused by extensive damage is not restored spontaneously. Regenerative medicine aims to regenerate/repair such extensively damaged tissues, by enhancing endogenous repair mechanisms and/or supplying proper cell types and mini-tissues (organoids) made by such cells to facilitate the repair process. For repairing large tissue damages, the latter strategy is often needed. However, delivering cells and organoids to, and immobilizing them at the damaged site, while keeping their viability and functionality after transplantation, is not straightforward, especially at sites that are under constant mechanical stress, such as muscle, bone and cartilage. Therefore, the delivery method is engineered using biomaterials to make sure that embedded cells and organoids are surrounded by the proper biochemical (growth factor and extracellular matrix) and physical/mechanical (compressive and shear stress) environment, after transplantation. However, we still do not fully understand many aspects of the process of cell/organoid-facilitated regeneration. Many questions, such as what determines the fate of transplanted cells and organoids (e.g., whether and how the type and age of cells used affect the outcome, and how cells and organoids respond to various biochemical and mechanical stimuli) still remain to be answered. In order to advance our knowledge and understanding of tissue engineering and biomechanics, this small workshop will bring together local experts in the various fields of science in an environment that will facilitate research interactions.

January 17, 2017
2:00 p.m. – 5:25 p.m.
MSB 2.103
Chaired by Naoki Nakayama, Ph.D., Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine and Johnny Huard, Ph.D., Orthopedic Surgery


Naoki Nakayama, Ph.D.
Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Institute of Molecular Medicine

“A novel cell source for cartilage cellular therapy and tissue engineering”

Scott Tashman, Ph.D.
Department of Orthopedic Surgery

“Assessing musculoskeletal tissue function after injury and treatment using dynamic, 3D imaging”

Mary Farach-Carson, Ph.D.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, UTHealth School of Dentistry

Building salivary gland micro tissues for relief of xerostomia”

Pamela Wenzel, Ph.D.
Department of Pediatric Surgery-Regenerative Medicine

Mechanotransduction signaling pathways”

Johnny Huard, Ph.D.
Department of Orthopedic Surgery

The role of stem cells and tissue engineering in musculoskeletal tissue repair: Current evidence and future directions