UT Health San Antonio biochemist Patrick Sung, D.Phil., has been awarded a UT System Faculty STARs award in the amount of $1.786 million to support his work on BRCA1 and BRCA2 cancer biology.
Dr. Sung joined UT Health San Antonio in 2019 from Yale, where he was a professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, therapeutic radiology and epidemiology. A $6 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas supported his recruitment.
He is one of the world’s leading researchers in BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are tumor suppressor genes. When these genes are mutated, the loss of function leads to cancer. Primarily known for increasing risk of breast cancer in women, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations also are associated with ovarian cancer, prostate and breast cancer in men, and a childhood cancer called neuroblastoma. A related gene is associated with aggressive pancreatic cancer.
“I am really honored to receive a UT System Faculty STARs award,” Dr. Sung said. “The resources from this award will help us advance our goals in BRCA and DNA repair research and provide the infrastructure for the training of students and fellows from across the UT Health San Antonio campus in methods for tackling major questions regarding the role of DNA repair in cancer avoidance.”
Dr. Sung recently received a highly competitive National Cancer Institute (NCI) Outstanding Investigator Award. The award, which began Sept. 9, will provide $6.1 million through 2026.
Dr. Sung occupies the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry and is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology at UT Health San Antonio. He also serves as associate dean for research in the Long School of Medicine, and leads a new research program in genetic integrity at the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr. Sung was born and raised in Hong Kong. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Liverpool in 1981 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Oxford in 1985, both in biochemistry. He then completed eight years of postdoctoral fellowship training at the University of Rochester in upstate New York.
This is Dr. Sung’s second stint at UT Health San Antonio. He joined the faculty here in 1997 as associate professor, and ultimately was promoted to professor and the Zachry Distinguished Professor of Molecular Medicine. He left UT Health San Antonio in 2003 to join the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University.
His decision to return to South Texas was partly personal and partly due to the level of science being conducted. He said he and his wife wanted to come back to San Antonio, the leadership of UT Health San Antonio is top-tier, and the level of investigation at the university is outstanding.
“We have good science, amazing people and we love San Antonio,” he said.
The UT System Board of Regents authorized the Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention (STARs) program in 2004. Multiple types of STARs awards support enhancement of UT institutions across the state.