Dr. Bina Joe, UT associate professor of physiology and pharmacology, thanks her mentors for fostering an interest in science and exploration leading to a successful research career that recently was recognized with a national honor.Joe received the Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Hypertension Inc., the country’s largest organization dedicated to hypertension and related cardiovascular disease, for her work identifying specific genes that contribute to the disorder. She received the award earlier this month at the society’s annual scientific meeting and exposition in New York.
“We know hypertension runs in families and something is being inherited, but what that something is we don’t know,” Joe said.
There are both genetic and environmental factors, such as salt, exercise and weight, which lead to hypertension issues. Joe’s laboratory works with segregated rats that have hypertension and those that are resistant to it. By controlling the environmental factors, the researchers can pinpoint genes that contribute to the disorder.
Joe’s predecessor and mentor at UT, Dr. John Rapp, identified a gene and her team has found another. There could be several more that contribute to hypertension. After mapping the genes, the focus will switch to changing the variations in them that lead to problems.
“Usually when a person receives an award for their research, they may not be really doing the work anymore. It’s their team. But for me, it’s both; I’ve done the work, and I’ve led postdoctoral students in doing the work,” Joe said. “It’s been very gratifying for me to both be part of it and leading a group. I owe it both to my mentors, who I owe my start and earlier career to, and the youngsters who are the future.”
The Young Scholar Award recognizes the achievements of outstanding young investigators in the field of hypertension. Candidates for the award must have received an advanced professional degree within the last 15 years and be active in research.