Pioneering scientist Dr. Jean Jiang named AAAS Fellow

Jean Jiang, Ph.D.

Jean X. Jiang, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and structural biology and holder of the Zachry Distinguished University Chair at UT Health San Antonio, is a newly elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS announced her selection Nov. 26.

Dr. Jiang was honored for “distinguished contributions to the field of basic and translational biomedical sciences, particularly in connexin channel research and in new therapeutics in cancer and neurological diseases.” Connexin, a protein, forms gap junction channels and hemichannels. These channels play important roles under physiological and pathological conditions.

“I am truly honored to be selected to the rank of AAAS Fellow,” Dr. Jiang said. “I am very grateful for the recognition, because the research in my laboratory has been supported by great contributions from many talented students, postdoctoral fellows and colleagues over the years. It is a privilege to be a member of UT Health San Antonio for more than 20 years with strong institutional support and wonderful colleagues.”

Dr. Jiang joined UT Health San Antonio in 1997 and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since that year. Other grants supporting her work have come from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Robert A. Welch Foundation, among others.

“I started with basic research, and through the years we gained quite an understanding of the underlying mechanisms of connexin channels,” she said. “We wanted to use the knowledge we gained to help patients through the development of therapeutics. We started to engage in translational research, particularly antibody therapies for the treatment of neurological injury and cancer metastasis.”

Dr. Jiang received the Master Research Award for Distinguished Researcher from the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio in 2017 and the university’s Presidential Distinguished Senior Research Scholar Award in 2018.

“Dr. Jiang is an exceptional scholar and mentor,” said Patrick Sung, D.Phil., interim chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology, Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry and associate dean for research, Long School of Medicine. “The Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology is proud to have Dr. Jiang as a role model for our junior faculty.”

Dr. Jiang is also the associate director of the Joint Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program of The University of Texas at San Antonio and UT Health San Antonio. She obtained her Ph.D. degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and was a postdoctoral fellow and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Her research focuses on connexin-forming gap junctions and hemichannels in lens, bone and cancer bone metastasis. Her lab has developed both cell-based and in vivo animal models.

Dr. Jiang has published more than 120 papers including journal articles in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Developmental Cell, Oncogene, Immunity and others. She is an elected Fellow of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. She has served as an associate and an editorial board member for multiple journals including the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Matrix Biology. She has also served on many U.S. and international research review and advisory panels.

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