Spring 2020


  • Songyeon Ahn (PI: John DiGiovanni) was one of only two graduate students across the nation to receive the 2019 North American Graduate Fellowship from the American College of Toxicology (ACT). She also won 1st prize at the Charles River Fast Facts Competition during the ACT annual meeting.
  • Four graduate students of CMCT members received the University Graduate Continuing Fellowship for 2020-2021:
    • Megha Thakur – DiGiovanni lab
    • Lexie D’Amico – Vasquez lab
    • Pooja Mandke – Vasquez lab
    • Cherish Taylor – Mukhopadhyay lab
  • Elaina Williams (PI: Sharon DeMorrow) won a junior investigator award to attend the bi-annual meeting of the International Society of Hepatic Encephalopathy and Nitrogen Metabolism for her abstract entitled “Let-7f Expression Is Upregulated in the Frontal Cortex During Acute Liver Failure and Contributes to Hepatic Encephalopathy via Downregulation of IGF1 Expression.”  She also was awarded in the category of Best Basic Science at the poster presentation for her poster entitled “Characterization of a Novel Mouse Model of Type A Hepatic Encephalopathy.”
  • Alfred Tuley, a recent postdoc in Walt Fast‘s lab, started a new job as a tenure track Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.


  • Andrea Gore was recently awarded the 2019 Civitatis Award, which honors outstanding citizenship at UT Austin, for dedicated and meritorious service to the university above and beyond the regular expectations for teaching, research, and writing.  She will receive the award at the University Awards Dinner in April.
  • Kevin McBride received a $3.5 million CPRIT Core Support Award to produce recombinant antibodies for research needs.  For more information on the award, see this announcement.
  • Som Mukhopadhyay and lab members wrote a publication on the regulation of brain manganese that won the NIEHS Paper of the Year for 2019.  See this link to read more about the research and award.

September 2019

On September 5th UT Austin hosted the 2nd Annual CMCT Research Symposium at the Thompson Conference Center.  It was well attended by over 80 people, including a large number of postdocs and graduate students.  Our special guest, Dr. Susan Rosenberg (Baylor College of Medicine) delivered the keynote presentation, “A new class of cancer proteins discovered in bacteria – the DNA damage-up network.” Eight CMCT faculty presented their latest research in the afternoon sessions.  Faculty, postdocs, and students participated in dynamic Q&A sessions after each presentation.  The Symposium concluded with a very successful poster session with 21 graduate students and 12 postdocs competing.    Thank you to all who participated in a very successful event.

Keynote Speaker:

Susan Rosenberg, Ph.D., Ben F. Love Chair in Cancer Research, Baylor College of Medicine

keynote speaker

CMCT Symposium Speakers:

  • Mark Bedford, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Sharon DeMorrow, Ph.D., Professor, Pharmacy and Internal Medicine, UT Austin
  • Jaquelin Dudley, Ph.D., Professor, Oncology and Molecular Biosciences, UT Austin
  • Lauren Ehrlich, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Oncology, UT Austin
  • Walter Fast, Ph.D., Professor and Division Head, Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry, UT Austin
  • Laura Fonken, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Pharmacy, UT Austin
  • Seongmin Lee, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Oncology and Pharmacy, UT Austin
  • John Powers, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Oncology, UT Austin

Poster Competition Winners:

poster winners

Postdoc Winners

  • 1st Place: Daric Wible (PI: Shawn Bratton, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center)
  • 2nd Place: Poulami Das (PI: Jacquelin Dudley, UT Austin)
  • 3rd Place: Tabish Hussain (PI: C. Marcelo Aldaz, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center)

Graduate Students Winners (judging group 1)

  • 1st Place: Meghan Collins (PI: Stefano Tiziani, UT Austin)
  • 2nd Place: Alexandra D’Amico (PI: Karen Vasquez, UT Austin)
  • 3rd Place: Fernando Eguiarte-Solomon (PI: John DiGiovanni, UT Austin)

Graduate Students Winners (judging group 2)

  • 1st Place: Cherish Taylor (PI: Som Mukhopadhyay, UT Austin)
  • 2nd Place: Aram Lyu  (PI: Lauren Ehrlich, UT Austin)
  • 3rd Place: Pallavi Kompella  (PI: Karen Vasquez, UT Austin)

August 2019

2nd Annual Research Symposium:

Visit this link for more info and to register for the 2nd Annual CMCT Symposium to be held on September 5th at the Thompson Conference Center.

April 2019

Awards, Honors and Other Recent Highlights:


  • Songyeon Ahn received the 2019 AACR Scholar-in-Training Award, a highly competitive honor that recognizes outstanding young investigators based upon the merit of their abstracts and overall application.   “Abstract 1966: Obesity and prostate cancer progression: Role of the chemokine CXCL12.” (2019)  It will be published online soon.
  • Pallavi Kompella’s poster won the following honor at UT Austin’s Research Day on April 17: Best Graduate Student Presentation: (Mentor, Karen Vasquez) “IMPACT OF OBESITY ON DNA STRUCTURE-INDUCED GENETIC INSTABILITY IN MICE”.
  • Cherish Taylor in Som Mukhopadhyay’s lab received the third prize in the poster competition for the Neurotoxicology Specialty Subsection at the Society of Toxicology annual meeting.



Andrea Gore received a five-year RO1 grant from the NIH – National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for research to determine how PCBs cause dysfunctions in reproductive physiology and behavior. See the press release for more info.

John DiGiovanni was an invited speaker in March at the Third Annual Meeting of the International Society of Precision Cancer Medicine (ISPCM) in Seoul, Korea.

A paper from Som Mukhopadhyay’s lab of was selected as the NIEHS paper of the month for March.  As highlighted on the College of Pharmacy website, the research focused on how brain manganese is regulated by activity of the gene SLC30A10 in the digestive system.
See the full text of the featured paper here.

Som Mukhopadhyay received the Bruce Fowler Young Investigator Award at the Society of Toxicology annual meeting.  The award recognizes an early career scientist who has made significant contributions to the field of metals toxicology.

Beginning in 2019, Karen Vasquez has a new role as editor-in-chief of Mutation Research – Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis.


October 2018

Dr. John DiGiovanni received The University of Texas at Austin’s Outstanding Career Research Award, sponsored by the UT Cooperative Society. On receiving this honor, Dean Crismon remarked, “Dr. DiGiovanni has been continuously funded by NIH for 37 years for his innovative research on mechanisms of producing and preventing cancer. He has over 350 publications to his credit.”

May 2018

The 13th International Skin Carcinogenesis Conference will be held here in Austin, TX on October 28-30, 2018. Registration is now open.  

Please visit the website HERE.

The 13th International Skin Carcinogenesis Conference which brings together scientists who are at the forefront of understanding the molecular basis for skin cancer development. The conference will feature the most recent and relevant advances in our understanding of the cellular, biochemical, and molecular changes that occur during skin cancer development, including both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers, as well as recent advances in prevention and treatment of these cancers.

February 2018

CMCT member, Dr. Jenny Jiang, and her lab were featured in Frontiers for Immunology for developing a new sequencing technique that detects T cell composition more accurately and with higher sensitivity than conventional methods, which could help better assess vaccine efficacy and treat cancer.

To view the online publication, please click here:

January 2018Dr. Somshuvra Mukhopadhyay

Dr. Som Mukhopadhyay was debuted by NIEHS in their Dert Success Story section in an article titled, “Studying the Biological Mechanisms of Parkisonism.”

“Pharmacologist Somshuvra Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D., from the University of Texas at Austin, is working to understand the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to parkinsonism, which causes Parkinson’s disease-like movement problems. By providing important insights into the biological processes involved in the condition, Mukhopadhyay’s research might one day inform the development of new drugs that help people with parkinsonism.One of the environmental factors linked to parkinsonism is exposure to high levels of the heavy metal manganese. Although the body needs some manganese, when levels get too high, the heavy metal becomes neurotoxic and leads to parkinsonism.”
Read more of Dr. Mukhopadhyay’s career and work here: 

December 2017

-Please read our CMCT newsletter here.

-CMCT is a sponsor for the Gordon Conference in Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity (

-UT Austin’s College of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmacology & Toxicology, and CMCT will host the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Lone Star Chapter of SOT on Sept 6-7, 2018 on UT Austin main campus. The theme of the meeting is “Mechanisms of Toxicity.” On Sept. 6, there will be a career development workshop on communication skills led by Dr. Carl Erickson, Prof. and former Assoc. Dean of Research, College of Pharmacy in the BME building (2-5 pm, Sept. 6, 2018). The main meeting will be on Sept. 7 in the Thompson Center with two scientific sessions, one focused on cancer biology and the other on organ specific toxicology. Keynote speakers are Dr. Karen Vasquez (UT Austin) for the cancer biology session and Dr. Michael Aschner (Albert Einstein College of Medicine) for the organ toxicology session. Remaining oral presentations, as well as poster presentations, will be given by students and postdoctoral trainees. The meeting provides a wonderful opportunity for trainees to present their work to a wide audience in TX and may be a useful stepping stone to presentations at national or international meetings. For more information, contact Stephanie D. Scott at

– CMCT Symposium 2018:  Save the data for the 2018 CMCT symposium that will be held Thursday May 17th.  More details will be provided as this date draws closer.

September 2017

Welcome New Members

Dr. Thomas Brenna, Professor of Pediatrics at Dell Med; Professor of Chemistry and of Human Nutrition in the College of Natural Sciences, UT Austin. Research interests: nutrition, metabolism, genetics, chemical analysis, and food chemistry of fatty acids and lipids in neurocognitive development and in disease; development of isotope ratio mass spectrometry and molecular mass spectrometry instrumentation and methods for lipid analysis and anti-doping drug testing; role of fats in ecology and human evolution.

Dr. Jaquelin Dudley, Professor of Molecular Biosciences, UT Austin. Research interests: retroviruses, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); breast cancer; mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) as a mouse model for HIV.

 Dr. Lauren Ehrlich, Associate Professor of Molecular Biosciences, UT Austin. Research interests: T cell development; thymocyte localization, thymocyte stromal interactions; thymic lymphomagenesis.

Dr. Ning Jenny Jiang, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, UT Austin. Research interests: technology development in systems immunology and immune engineering and applying them to study the immune system development, infection, and cancer immunology and immunotherapy.

Dr. Guliang Wang, Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UT Austin. Research interests: understanding the effects of DNA modification and secondary structure on DNA damage/repair and genomic instability, and the cellular response to DNA damaging agents.

Dr. Richard Wood, Professor of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Research interests: analysis of pathways of DNA repair, DNA polymerases, and DNA damage tolerance.

August 2017


Dr. Karen Vasquez’s research was debuted on Texas Advanced Computing Center in an article entitled, “Mining Cancer Data for Treatment Clues” on May 22, 2107.

“A group led by Karen Vazquez, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at The University of Texas at Austin, has been working to find correlations between chromosomal rearrangements — one of the hallmarks of cancer genomes — and certain DNA sequences with the potential to fold into secondary structures.”

Read more here:

July 2017

CMCT members, Drs. DiGiovanni and Tiziani, teamed up on a collaborative study to identify combinations of natural compounds that can inhibit cancer.

“A new study from Dr. John DiGiovanni, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, and his colleague, Dr. Stefano Tiziani, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, identifies several natural compounds found in food, including turmeric, apple peels and red grapes, as key ingredients that could thwart the growth of prostate cancer, the most common cancer afflicting U.S. men, except for skin cancer and the third leading cause of cancer related death in men.”

The news release can be found here.

June 2017

This past spring we organized our first annual CMCT Symposium held May 18th at the Thompson Conference Center that included Dr. Gail Prins as our keynote speaker and research talks from a number of Center members. Posters were also presented by students and postdocs. This was a great event!







Drs. Vasquez and DiGiovanni reviewing a poster.

Dr. Andrea Gore presenting her talk.

CMCT News Spring 2015

San Diego Society of Toxicology Meeting photo

Faculty and graduate students share Longhorn spirit at the San Diego Society of Toxicology meeting.



Pharmacology/Toxicology LinkedIn group site

UT Tower and College LogosA LinkedIn group site has been developed for the alumni and friends of the graduate program in pharmacology and toxicology at The University of Texas at Austin. By joining the Pharm/Tox LinkedIn group you can keep in touch and network with your fellow alumni and friends as well as learn about the exciting events and discoveries occurring in the division. On the other hand, by having access to your LinkedIn profile, our staff members are able to keep track of your career progress and contact information without having to contact you via email. Join now by visiting our site.

 Lone Star SOT meeting

Photo at LSSOTCMCT was a sponsor for the Lone Star Chapter of Society of Toxicology (LSSOT) annual meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Austin on November 13-14, 2014. The theme of the meeting was “Environmental Influences on the Immune System,” with an outstanding keynote lecture from Dr. David Sherr, Boston University School of Public Health.

We had a great turnout from Texas universities, with exceptional platform and poster presentations by graduate students and postdocs. Prizes were awarded to the top three presenters in each category, including:


  • First place, Charles Zogzas (UT Austin)
  • Second place, Natividad Fuentes (A&M)
  • Third place, Stacey Gaskill (Baylor).


  • First place, Ashley Solmonson (UT Austin)
  • Second place, Dwayne Carter (UTMB)
  • Third place, Kristin Di Bona (UT Austin)
Congratulations to our UT Austin winners!

Dr. Wright with Students





Vasquez honored

VasquezDr. Karen Vasquez, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, is among five faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin recently elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  Vasquez, the James T. Doluisio Regents Professor in the College of Pharmacy, was recognized for pioneering contributions concerning genome instability, particularly by demonstrating that non-canonical DNA structures can be mutagenic, and for discovering new roles for DNA repair factors.

She identified three areas of research focus on her website including:

• DNA structure in genomic instability and human disease.

• Molecular mechanisms of DNA damage recognition and repair.

• Novel strategies to modify gene structure and function in living organisms

AAAS fellows are chosen annually by their peers to distinguish individuals who are members of the association cited for “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications which are scientifically or socially distinguished.”

Vasquez is joined by four other UT Austin faculty members in fellow selection by AAAS this year including from the College of Natural Sciences, Richard Warren Aldrich, professor of neuroscience, and Stanley Roux, professor of molecular biosciences; and from the Cockrell School of Engineering, Roger T. Bonnecaze, professor of chemical engineering, and Aramugan Manthiram, professor of mechanical engineering.

Trainee Highlights

  • Dr. Imee del Mundo (postdoc, Vasquez lab) is a recipient of a CPRIT fellowship.
  • Angela Stermer (graduate student, Richburg lab) was awarded an AFPE pre-doctoral award in pharmaceutical science.
  • Sarah Song (undergraduate student, Vasquez lab) received a CPRIT SURP fellowship.
  • Lisa Tremmel (graduate student, DiGiovanni lab) received a PhRMA pre-doctoral fellowship

Recent Awards

Jonathan Mercado (undergraduate student, Mukhopadhyay lab) was awarded the Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) Award for Excellence in Molecular Biology or Genetics Research ($500) from the 2015 Undergraduate Research Forum.

Momentum builds toward Acosta endowment

Dr.and Mrs. AcostaMomentum continues to build toward establishing the Daniel and Patricia Acosta Graduate Endowment in Pharmacy.  Dan and Patricia have gotten the fund-raising off to a great start with their $25,000 pledge toward establishing an endowment to assist graduate education within the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology.  Since their initial pledge, many alumni of the division have stepped forward with their own gifts. This endowment is the latest example of the couple’s commitment to giving back.  If you, too, are ready to pay it forward, you can make your gift.

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