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UT Bioscientist Receives Antiviral Research Award

Jason McLellan, molecular bioscience associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, was the 2020 recipient of the William Prusoff Memorial Award from the International Society for Antiviral Research, which honors a young scientist who has shown excellence in antiviral research and promise for future contributions to the field. 

McLellan’s research focuses on the structure of certain proteins as infections progress, which informs the development of medicine used to treat disease. One of his research interests focuses on human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is a virus causing severe lower respiratory tract infections, particularly in young children and the elderly. A certain part of RSV, called the F protein, changes shape during an infection. If the immune system encounters the F protein in this altered shape, the antibodies it produces are less effective than when the F protein is in its pre-infection shape. Using a structure-based approach, McLellan engineered the F protein to take away its shapeshifting ability and in turn allow the body to produce more effective antibodies in response. 

McLellan previously received the Etter Early Career award from the American Crystallographic Association in 2017 and the 2019 Viruses Young Investigator in Virology Prize for his work on RSV. 

McLellan graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in chemistry, and earned his Ph.D. from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. He joined the biochemistry department at Dartmouth Medical School, and in 2018 moved his lab to the University of Texas at Austin, where he became an associate professor in the department of molecular biosciences. 

Georgiou Honored with Chemical Engineering Literature Prize

George Georgiou, a professor in the Departments of Molecular Biosciences, Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, received the William H. Walker Award for Excellence in Contributions to Chemical Engineering Literature at the annual American Institute of Chemical Engineers meeting this month.

The award is given to a member who has made an outstanding contribution to chemical engineering literature which is of interest and importance to the chemical engineering profession. 

Georgiou’s research focuses on the development and discovery of protein therapeutics, which are proteins engineered in a laboratory for pharmaceutical use to supplement essential proteins for a variety of purposes like insulin for diabetes and erythropoietin for anemia. These proteins can be used in vivo (that is, on living organisms) rather than tissue samples for testing, which allows scientists to see the overall effects of an experiment on a living subject.

Georgiou graduated with his doctorate in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1987. After coming to UT Austin as an assistant professor of chemical engineering in 1986, Georgiou became a professor in chemical and biomedical engineering, and in molecular biosciences, and served on various chairs for the University. Georgio currently serves as a Dula D. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering.

Among his many honors, he was elected to the National Academy of Inventors (2015), American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2015) and the National Academy of Medicine (2011). He was also named UT Austin’s Inventor of the Year in 2014.

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