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CHICAGO (April 20, 2022) — Afaf Saliba, MSc, a student in the PhD in Integrated Biomedical Sciences degree program at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, today received a Translational Science Award from the Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS). ACTS, a non-profit membership association of translational scientists from the nation’s leading academic medical centers, honored Saliba with the 2022 Outstanding Trainee: Predoctoral Scholar award at the ACTS Translational Science 2022 meeting in Chicago.
Ms. Saliba is a National Institutes of Health-supported TL1 scholar through the Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science at the health science center, also referred to as UT Health San Antonio. She is in the Cell Biology, Genetics, and Molecular Medicine concentration of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences PhD program and has particular research interest in metabolic disorders, diabetes and kidney disease. Ms. Saliba is mentored by Kumar Sharma, MD, FAHA, FASN, professor and chief of the Division of Nephrology, David L. Hillis Endowed Distinguished Chair in Medicine, vice chair of research in the Department of Medicine and director of the Center for Precision Medicine.
“I am so honored and happy to receive this award,” Ms. Saliba said. “Working passionately and persistently toward making lives better is a mission I am privileged to share with my support system. I dedicate this success to my mentor, Dr. Kumar Sharma, the Center for Precision Medicine, the TL1 program and UT Health San Antonio. Thank you all for the tremendous support.”
The ACTS Outstanding Trainee: Predoctoral Scholar Award recognizes achievement in translational research at the pre-doctoral level with emphasis on transformational scientific potential. Ms. Saliba seeks to become a successful and independent translational scientist in metabolic disorders. Her thesis project aims to decipher molecular and metabolic pathways in diabetic kidney disease based on large-scale data analysis of patients’ samples. She is using mouse models in addition to the top-notch omics technology at the Center for Precision Medicine. She is focusing on identifying precision therapeutics for diabetic nephropathy.
“Afaf has all of the great qualities of a very talented and dedicated young researcher. She is highly ethical, very inquisitive, rigorous about data quality and always enthusiastic and cheerful. It is a pleasure to have Afaf in the lab and we look forward supporting her continued growth in academic research,” Dr. Sharma said.
Ms. Saliba holds two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees in Biology and Psychology. She won several chess competitions among Lebanese national universities and earned multiple scholarships. After graduating from the American University of Beirut in 2017, she trained at Baylor College of Medicine at the Neurological Research Institute before joining the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology as a visiting scientist at UT Health San Antonio. She found her experience at UT Health enriched with an inclusive culture.
ACTS presents its annual Translational Science Awards to recognize investigators for their outstanding contributions to the clinical research and translational science field. Individuals and teams are nominated by their colleagues and peers.
“The ACTS awards recognize the whole spectrum of the clinical and translational research workforce. For 2022, we are proud to use our awards to highlight the incredible contribution of our members as investigators, trainees, educators and research teams as well as the advancement of diversity, inclusion and health equity,” said ACTS President Karen Martinez-Gonzalez, MD, MSc.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) is a primary driver for San Antonio’s $42.4 billion health care and biosciences sector, the city’s largest economic generator. Driving substantial economic impact with its five professional schools, a diverse workforce of 7,200, an annual operating budget of more than $1 billion and a clinical practice that provides more than 2 million patient visits each year, UT Health San Antonio plans to add more than 1,500 higher-wage jobs over the next five years to serve San Antonio, Bexar County and South Texas. UT Health San Antonio is the largest research university in South Texas with an annual research portfolio of approximately $350 million.