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UT Southwestern physician-researcher wins international award for lipid research

DALLAS Dr. Helen Hobbs, director of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development and an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has been awarded Germany's highly respected Heinrich Wieland Prize for her research on lipids.

The prestigious international science award is given annually to an individual who has conducted outstanding research in the fields of biochemistry, chemistry and physiology of fats and lipids and its clinical importance.

Dr. Hobbs' research focuses on the genetics of lipid metabolism, such as inherited factors that play a role in determining the level of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, in the blood. High LDL cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and stroke because it contributes to the buildup of plaque that clogs the walls of arteries. Dr. Hobbs' research has shown, for example, that at least one out of every 50 blacks has a variation in one particular gene that results in a 40 percent-lower level of LDL.

The award is named after German chemist Dr. Heinrich Otto Wieland (1877-1957), who won the Nobel Prize in 1927 for his work on bile acids. Dr. Hobbs' work provides new insights on how cholesterol gets into bile, which is the major method used by the human body to eliminate cholesterol.

"Helen Hobbs is the poster child for physician scientists," said Dr. Michael Brown, Nobel laureate and director of the Erik Jonsson Center for Research in Molecular Genetics and Human Disease at UT Southwestern. In the 1980s, Dr. Hobbs spent four years following her clinical training as a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Brown and fellow Nobel laureate Dr. Joseph Goldstein's laboratory at UT Southwestern.

"An outstanding clinician, she launched her scientific career with Joe and me, and then she went ballistic. Her recent genetic work on human cholesterol-lowering mutations is the most important work in chol
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Contact: Amanda Siegfried
amanda.siegfried@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
4-Nov-2005


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