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Jason McLellan Awarded O'Donnell Award in Medicine

McLellan c

This month, Dr. Jason McLellan received the 2022 Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award in Medicine from TAMEST (The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas). His research laid the groundwork for vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. They all utilized his spike protein discovery in their efforts to create and distribute life-saving vaccines. The TAMEST 2022 Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award is awarded to individuals whose contributions address the essential role that science and technology play in society, and whose work meets the highest standards of exemplary professional performance, creativity and resourcefulness. 

Last year, McLellan was selected also as recipient of the Shirley Bird Perry Longhorn Citizenship Award. This award was created by Sam Perry in 2017, with the purpose of recognizing one or more university students, members of the faculty, staff, administration, or alumni for an individual or collective act that brings honor to The University and that positively impacts civic life. The recipient of this award is to be a trusted, engaged citizen who demonstrates exceptional judgement, compassion for others, boundless energy and a strong work ethic as well as notable pride and love for The University of Texas. 

He also was named the 2021 Texas Inventor of the Year for his role in biomedical research linked to the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. The award is given annually by the State Bar of Texas' Intellectual Property Law Section in recognition of an individual whose invention "has scientifically impacted the Texas economy."

The vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Novavax, all use the patented technology McLellan and the tram developed in 2017, when he was a faculty member in Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine. The invention also has applications for treatments such as antibody therapies. 

To date, hundreds of millions of people across the globe have been immunized against COVID-19 with vaccines that use the team's spike protein technology. 

Ilya Finkelstein Awarded Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research

Finkelstein Ilya headshotThe Norman Hackerman Award honors outstanding early-career chemical scientists in Texas. It is designed to encourage scientists who are embarking on careers dedicated to increasing our fundamental understanding of chemistry.

Finkelstein joined the Department of Molecular Biosciences in 2012. He is well regarded for his innovative methods to understand how cells repair their DNA and maintain integrity of genetic information. Most recently, Finkelstein shifted his team's focus and developed a critical reagent for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development. He is also on a team of UT Austin faculty who have been working with clinicians in Houston to understand how COVID-19 is mutating by reviewing blood plasma of 5,000 patients. 

"Dr. Finkelstein is a distinguished and impressive biophysicist", said Peter B. Dervan, chair of the Welch Foundation's scientific advisory board. His creativity in the lab continues to move the field with cutting-edge research and discoveries related to DNA repair and CRISPR gene editing. Dr. Finkelstein's recent COVID-19 research also shines light on the importance of ongoing and proactive basic chemical research."

Read more and view a video about Dr. Finkelstein...

2021 Sloan Research Fellowship Winner awarded to Urbain Weyemi

WeyemiThe Sloan Research Fellowship honors outstanding early-career scientists in eight fields. Dr. Weyemi is among the 128 scholars from across the country selected by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to receive this award. 

Since the first Sloan Research Fellowships were awarded in 1955, 96 faculty from UT Austin have received a fellowship.

Weyemi joined the Department of Molecular Biosciences as a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Scholar in Cancer Biology in 2019. He researches at the intersection of cancer biology, neurodegeneration and epigenetics, focusing on how damage to the human DNA leads to cancer and other diseases. He is also a member of the LiveStrong Cancer Institutes at Dell Medical School. Learn more about Weyemi and his work in our recent Q&A

"A Sloan Research Fellow is a rising star, plain and simple", said Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Solan Foundation. "To receive a Fellowship is to be told by the scientific community that your achievements as a young scholar are already driving the research frontier."

Read more... 


Congratulations MBS recipients of the CNS Excellence Awards

2020 Teaching Excellence Award:

Congratulations Dr. David Taylor, Assistant Professor
David Taylor

The College of Natural Sciences is home to a large number of committed, innovative educators that help our students learn a demanding curriculum. The College of Natural Sciences Teaching Excellence Award celebrates the members of our faculty that excel in the classroom.


2020 Staff Excellence Award:

Congratulations Yvette Cañedo, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist

Yvette Cañedo

The College of Natural Sciences Staff Excellence award recognizes members of our community who go above and beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of their job, including outstanding dedication, competence, resourcefulness and customer service. 

Three MBS Faculty Receive Named Professorships, Chair

The Department of Molecular Biosciences is celebrating three professors who recently received honors in the form of named professorships and chairs. To celebrate their appointments MBS has scheduled zoom seminars by each of the new endowment holders. Harshey, Huibregtse and Payne will speak during the MBS Fall 2020 seminar series (listed below).

Photo of Rasika HarsheyRasika Harshey is now the Lorene Morrow Kelley Professor of Microbiology

Seminar date: December 9th, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.



Photo of Jon Huibregtse

Jon Huibregtse
is now the Benjamin Clayton Centennial Professor of Biochemistry

Seminar date: November 18th, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.


Photo of Shelley Payne

Shelley Payne
is now the Marie Betzner Morrow Centennial Chair

Seminar date: October 28, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.






Photo Gallery

MBS-graduation-flickrMBS Graduates 


18 Jan 2022@ 12:00AM
First Day of Classes