UT System Rising STARs award to advance prostate cancer research

Elizabeth Wasmuth, PhD
Elizabeth Wasmuth, PhD

Elizabeth Wasmuth, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio), has received a Rising Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention (STARs) award in the amount of $250,000 to support her cancer research into studying the molecules responsible for prostate cancer progression.

Wasmuth, who joined UT Health San Antonio in June 2022, supported by the Recruitment of First-Time Tenure-Track Faculty Award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT),  says the award will be used to purchase game-changing laboratory equipment to accelerate research that may not have been possible otherwise.

“The UT System Rising STARs award will allow us to purchase three pieces of equipment that will open new doors both for my lab and others at UT Health San Antonio,” Wasmuth said.  “These include two instruments that precisely measure masses and affinities of protein-protein interactions and proteins with their nucleic acid ligands to make important discoveries about the composition and behavior of a diverse array of biomolecules, as well as streamlining approaches for structural studies. The third piece of equipment will let us continuously monitor cancer cell growth in real-time, allowing us to validate in cancer cells the functional importance of the contacts we identify using structural methods and the ability to uncover new therapeutic vulnerabilities.”

As a Hispanic-serving institution in a community with a 60% Hispanic majority and as the top research center in South Texas, she felt UT Health San Antonio would be a natural fit.

“Coming from an underrepresented background myself, I have always wanted to develop my independent laboratory at a research institute committed to serving the needs of the local community,” Wasmuth said.

In 2004, The UT System Board of Regents created the UT System STARs awards program to support promising faculty members across the 13 UT institutions across the state. The $250,000 grants are awarded to early-career investigators recruited for tenure-track positions.

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