Cancer and virology researcher Reuben Harris, PhD, has been named chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology at UT Health San Antonio. The department is in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine. Dr. Harris, a professor with tenure, will assume his duties effective April 11, 2022, announced Robert Hromas, MD, FACP, dean of the Long School of Medicine.
Dr. Harris joins UT Health San Antonio from the University of Minnesota, where he is professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Dr. Harris was appointed HHMI Investigator in 2015, a position that he has just successfully renewed for another seven-year term and that will transfer with his recruitment. He will be the first HHMI Investigator at UT Health San Antonio. During February, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced a prestigious and highly competitive $6 million Established Investigator Recruitment Award to UT Health San Antonio in support of Dr. Harris.
Dr. Harris has been a pioneer in addressing mechanisms of cancer cell mutagenesis and tumor evolution and host defense mechanisms against virus infection. He is firmly committed to education and mentoring and has an exceptional track record with both PhD students and postdoctoral trainees going on to have highly successful careers.
Dr. Harris has accrued impressive leadership experience as well, serving as an associate editor of Science Advances (since 2014) and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Virology (since 2008) and the Journal of Biological Chemistry (since 2017). He also served as a full member of the National Institutes of Health AIDS Molecular and Cellular Biology study section (2010-2014), chairs multiple national grant reviews, and is a current member of the AIDS Research Advisory Committee of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Dr. Harris has won several research awards, including the prestigious KT Jeang Prize in Retrovirology (2019) and is a recipient of a MERIT Award from the NIAID. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology. He has also chaired multiple international meetings including a Gordon Research Conference, an American Society for Virology Annual Meeting, and the International Conference on Base Editing.
“Dr. Harris’ appointment is expected to exert a strong impact on our institutional thematic strengths of cancer biology, molecular virology and drug discovery/development,” Dr. Hromas said.
Dr. Hromas thanked Patrick Sung, PhD, for his outstanding efforts as interim chairman of the department, a time during which the department has grown in strength under his superb leadership. Dr. Harris was selected after an extensive national search led by Jennifer Sharpe Potter, PhD, MPH, vice president for research, and Dr. Sung.