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UT Southwestern scientist honored among best in Texas research
Date:1/8/2009

in 2006, were named by TAMEST to honor two of the Lone Star State's most generous and far-sighted supporters of medical, engineering, and scientific research and education. Previous UT Southwestern recipients of the award are: Dr. Michael Rosen, professor of biochemistry and pharmacology, who received the inaugural award for science in 2006; Dr. Zhijian "James" Chen, professor of molecular biology, the 2007 recipient for science; Dr. David Mangelsdorf, chairman of pharmacology, the 2007 recipient for medicine; and Dr. Beth Levine, chief of infectious diseases, the 2008 winner for medicine.

"It is truly a great honor to be selected for an award that bears the name of Edith and Peter O'Donnell," Dr. Ranganathan said. "They have worked with dedication toward promoting scientific excellence in the state of Texas for many years and, consequently, share in the achievements of our university. Their efforts have helped progress our research program in many ways."

Dr. Ranganathan's research has focused in part on uncovering the most fundamental evolutionary design principles of living systems. By carefully examining how proteins have evolved over time, for example, he discovered a set of simple "rules" that nature appears to have used to design and manufacture proteins, which carry out all of life's functions. To test the rules he discerned, Dr. Ranganathan developed sophisticated computer programs to then produce artificial proteins that look and function like their natural counterparts.

Such design work could lead to tailor-made proteins that perform specific tasks in the body or replace malfunctioning natural proteins.

"This work could contribute to understanding how complex biological systems can arise through the iterative process of random variation and selection that we call evolution," Dr. Ranganathan said.

Dr. Ranganathan earned both his medical degree and his doctorate in biology from the University of California, S
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Contact: Amanda Siegfried
amanda.siegfried@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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