GSBS 50th Anniversary: Super Panel & Alumni Reunion

November 08, 2013

Tracey Barnett

In conjunction with its 50th Anniversary, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston will host a Super Panel and Alumni Reunion featuring several Distinguished Alumni honored by the School today (Friday, November 8). Listed below are details for the events:

GSBS 50th Anniversary Super Panel Presentation: Friday, 3-5p.m. (Panel discussion: 3-4:30p.m.; reception: 4:30-5p.m.) This event, open to all GSBS students and postdoctoral students, will feature four GSBS alumni stars:

Barrera Saldana photo

Hugo Barrera Saldana, Ph.D. (1982/Saunders): A specialist in Science and Technology Commercialization (IC²Institute, the University of Texas at Austin and ITESM, 1999). In Latin America he pioneered molecular diagnosis of several diseases, clinical trials on cancer gene therapy (prostate cancer), and internationally competitive research on the regulation, evolution, dysfunction and biotechnological use of growth hormone genes. He was named GSBS Distinguished Alumnus in 1998.

Cherie Butts photo

Cherie Butts, Ph.D. (2003/Freedman): Associate director of Immunology Research at Biogen Idec Inc., a biotechnology company in Cambridge, MA. Her work focuses on developing drugs for autoimmune and fibrotic conditions.

Gerner photo

Eugene Gerner, Ph.D. (1974/Humphrey): Gerner is highly regarded for his work in gastrointestinal (GI) cancer; formerly director of the GI Cancer Program at the University of Arizona Cancer Center and principal investigator of a GI SPORE; currently professor emeritus, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Arizona. Gerner holds several patents related to cancer prevention therapies and theranostics. He co-founded the company Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CPP) to bring cancer prevention into clinical practice and serves as Chief Scientific Officer at CPP. He was named GSBS Distinguished Alumnus in 2003.

Wicklund photo

Cathy Wicklund, M.S., C.G.C. (1993/Hecht): Wicklund is the director of the Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling at Northwestern University. She served on the Board of Directors of the National Society, and is an advocate for the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act and the recognition of genetic counselors as providers under the Social Security Act. She is also a member of the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Translating Genomic-Based Research for Health and the Discretionary Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children. She was named GSBS Distinguished Alumna in 2010.

GSBS 50th Anniversary Alumni Reunion: This event is an invitation-only soiree for GSBS alumni. This event will feature presentations by:

Fuqua photo

Suzanne Fuqua, Ph.D., (1982/Naso): A 1982 graduate, Fuqua is widely recognized for her pioneering work on hormonal resistance in breast cancer. Her lab identified variant estrogen receptors in breast cancer tumors and has linked these mutations to hormone resistance and breast cancer progression by demonstrating their consequences in altering estrogen-binding and cell responsiveness in model systems. Fuqua is an Associate Director of Cancer Education at Baylor College of Medicine, and has also made seminal observations on novel hormone therapy resistance mechanisms and metastatic drivers in breast tumor progression. She was named GSBS Distinguished Alumna in 2007.

McClure photo

Michael McClure, Ph.D., (1970/Hnilica): As Chief of the Reproductive Sciences Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, Dr. McClure led a broad national NIH research program in the Reproductive Sciences. His individual program focus was on the field of reproductive genetics and reproductive immunology. He played a major role in NICHD’s developing the NIH science policy related to cloning. He was named a GSBS Distinguished Alumnus in 2000 and retired in 2003 as Chief, Organs and Systems Toxicology Branch, Division of Extramural Research and Training, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH. He graduated from GSBS 1970 and was named GSBS Distinguished Alumnus in 2000.


Danny Welch, Ph.D., (1984/Nicolson): Welch is an internationally recognized leader in the field of cancer metastasis. Professor and founding chair at the University of Kansas in the department of cancer biology, he is best known for his discovery of 6 of the 34 known metastasis-suppressor genes. Dr. Welch and his associate J. H. Lee are inventors of and hold the international patent for KISS1, a metastasis-suppressor gene. Recently, with colleague Scott Ballinger, he developed the MNX mouse, which provides a new way to study nuclear-mitochondrial gene interactions. He graduated in 1984 and was named the GSBS Distinguished Alumnus in 2008.


This story was written before these events occurred. A follow-up story featuring photos will be posted shortly.