SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 1, 2013) — Bettie Sue Masters, Ph.D., D.Sc., M.D. (Hon.), the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor in Chemistry at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, has been named president-elect of The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST). This organization brings the state’s top scientific, academic and corporate minds together to further position Texas as a national research leader.
Dr. Masters, a longtime member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, is a biochemistry professor in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center. She will serve as TAMEST president in 2014.
“Dr. Masters is one of the top scientists in the state of Texas,” said Kenneth L. Kalkwarf, D.D.S., M.S., president ad interim of the Health Science Center. “This appointment recognizes her career contributions as a scientist, her willingness to speak and serve on important issues, both in Texas and on the national and world stage, and, not least, her mentorship of younger scientists.”
Dr. Masters received her Ph.D. in biochemistry, with a minor in chemistry, from Duke University in 1963 and completed postdoctoral studies there. She has served on the basic science faculties of the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, the Medical College of Wisconsin (where she was chair of biochemistry) and, since 1990, the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.
Throughout her academic career, Dr. Masters has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, earning a Merit Award from the latter from 1989 to 1998. Her current research interests include the unique structure and properties of enzymes called nitric oxide synthases, which are involved in neurotransmission, immune responses and vasodilation of blood vessels, among other physiologically important signaling functions. Dr. Masters’ group also is funded by NIH to study the molecular and cellular effects of human mutations in an enzyme called NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase. These mutations, depending on their location in the molecule, can cause severe defects including head abnormalities and ambiguous sex organs.
TAMEST was founded in 2004 to provide broader recognition of the state’s top achievers in medicine, engineering and science, and to build a stronger identity for Texas as an important destination and center of achievement in these fields. Members include Texas’ Nobel Laureates and more than 240 National Academies members.
TAMEST also works to foster the next generation of scientists and to promote awareness and communication among the state’s best and brightest about research priorities for the future.
“This is, indeed, an honor and a privilege for me to serve in this capacity for TAMEST, a unique organization in the United States,” Dr. Masters said. “I was honored to be a member of the founding Board of Directors of TAMEST, its first secretary and the first chair of the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards Committee that each year recognizes four rising young investigators with $25,000 each for achievements in medicine, engineering, science and technology innovation. I hope that this organization increasingly becomes a source of information about science, engineering and technology for the public and our state legislators.”
TAMEST initiatives also included the promotion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in public schools in a report issued in December 2008 titled, “The Next Frontier: World-Class Math and Science Education for Texas.” William R. Brinkley, Ph.D., of Baylor College of Medicine, immediate past president of TAMEST, chaired the report committee.
“It is important to realize our emphasis on youth and the development of interest and education in science and technology,” Dr. Masters said. “Young scientists represent the hope of the future of our society.”
Other TAMEST programs have featured natural resources, technological advances, space exploration and energy.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 28,000 graduates. The $736 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.