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Internationally respected scientist joins UT Health Northeast as chair of cellular and molecular biology

December 13, 2013

An internationally known scientist who has received about $9 million in competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2000 has joined UT Health Northeast.

iStock_000005242504Small.ttubes_coagMitsuo Ikebe, Ph.D., will chair the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology. In partnership with other UT Health biomedical researchers, he will help identify new ways to improve patient outcomes in diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, lung infections, and cancer.

The NIH first funded Dr. Ikebe’s research in 1985 and has awarded him a total of 18 research grants, so far. He comes to UT Health after 18 years with the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) in Worcester, Mass.

He studies cell motility, the ability of a cell and its components to move when stimulated by something outside the cell. This means his cutting-edge research can be applied to a broad range of medical problems, such as how cancer cells move, how inflammatory cells invade injured tissue, and how these tissues repair themselves.

“Dr. Ikebe is a highly accomplished and internationally recognized scientist with a world-class research team. His work integrates well with our ongoing research programs, especially those in lung injury and repair, lung immunology, and cancer,” said UT Health Vice President for Research Steven Idell, MD, Ph.D.

Dr. Ikebe is also interested in how smooth muscle cells work. These cells control the constriction of blood vessels – which can lead to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries – and the narrowing of the lung’s airways, which occurs in asthma.

He has served as vice chair of the Department of Physiology at UMMS Medical School and as professor in the UMMS Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems.

Because of his considerable experience in graduate biomedical education, Dr. Ikebe will direct UT Health’s Biotechnology Graduate Program. In addition, he plans to bring scientists from Korea and Japan to this area for post-graduate training as part of exchange programs he directs.

He has served on committees that reviewed NIH grant applications in the fields of experimental cardiovascular science and physiological chemistry.

Dr. Ikebe has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and biology from Osaka University in Japan and a master’s degree in biochemistry from the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

For more than 60 years, UT Health Northeast has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. UT Health Northeast’s annual operating budget of $138.8 million represents a major economic impact of over $347 million for the Northeast Texas region. Since 2002, scientists in the Center for Biomedical Research have been awarded more than $120 million in research dollars. As the academic health science center for Northeast Texas, its graduate medical education programs – with residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities throughout the region and beyond. UT Health Northeast is also the program sponsor of the residency program in internal medicine at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview.

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