Dr. Dahia receives UT System award to expand her research on rare endocrine tumors

Patricia Dahia

Patricia Dahia, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, has been awarded a $1 million UT System Faculty STARs award to support her cancer genetics research.

Dr. Dahia said the funding will be used to develop the infrastructure of a center for endocrine and hereditary tumors studies.

This center will provide training opportunities for the next generation of clinical and translational investigators and expand collaborations across UT institutions and beyond.

“Receiving the STARs award is an honor and recognition by the UT System of the value of cancer genetics research as a cornerstone of precision medicine,” said Dr. Dahia, who is the Robert Tucker Hayes Distinguished Chair in Oncology. “These funds will support the development of a unique center in Texas for the study, diagnosis and treatment planning of patients with endocrine tumors.”

Rare endocrine tumors often lag behind in therapeutic progress compared to more common cancers but they can be paradigm shifters in the way doctors understand and treat diseases, Dr. Dahia said.

“This award will bolster our research efforts in defining molecular properties of tumors to help predict their behavior and more precisely plan the patients’ treatment and follow-up,” she said. “These tumors are often hereditary, so family members will also benefit from this progress. Importantly, the advances made in understanding molecular defects in these tumors may be applicable to other, more common human cancers and may impact them at the diagnosis and treatment level.”

Dr. Dahia’s career has been dedicated to research on the genetics of cancer, with an emphasis on inherited endocrine tumors and the discovery of cancer susceptibility genes.

She led an international team to discover a genetic mutation that explains why adults with severe congenital heart defects, who live with low oxygen in their blood, are at dramatically high risk for adrenal gland cancer.

In addition to her research, Dr. Dahia has mentored dozens of trainees at various levels, many of whom have entered independent careers in academia and the health care industry. Dr. Dahia came to UT Health San Antonio in 2005 from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The UT System Board of Regents authorized the STARs program in 2004. Multiple types of STARs awards support enhancement of UT institutions across the state.

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