David Underwood of the Fondren Foundation, at left, presents the Fondren Award to Jack Blanton, Sr. on April 29.
Mrs. Carin Barth, a member of TMHRI’s Board of Directors, and her husband Todd hosted a dinner for 125 guests at the River Oaks Country Club on Wednesday, April 29. At the dinner, Jack Blanton, Sr. received the Fondren Award from the Fondren Foundation for his outstanding service to The Methodist Hospital. This event also spotlighted the diabetes research program at TMHRI.
At the suggestion of Ms. Barth, Institute Director Dr. Michael Lieberman began the scientific portion of the program with a brief speech about the work of TMHRI. In Dr. Lieberman's words, “What makes TMHRI so attractive to researchers across the country is our commitment to interdisciplinary research and a culture of innovation and discovery.”
Following his speech, Dr. Lieberman introduced Dr. Willa Hsueh, director of the Diabetes Research Program, and Dr. John Baxter, the program’s co-director and director of the Genomic Medicine Program. Dr. Hsueh emphasized the disproportionate incidence of obesity and diabetes in Texas and highlighted the importance of abdominal fat in the development of type 2 diabetes. “‘Angry fat’ contributes to diabetes and its most important consequence, cardiovascular disease,” she said. Dr. Baxter presented three novel therapeutic approaches to obesity, elevated LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) and atherosclerosis. The approaches take advantage of the latest advances in structural biology to develop molecules that selectively activate nuclear receptors — the docking stations in the nuclei of cells that help regulate gene expression. Obesity in the United States, he argued, cannot be controlled by lifestyle changes alone; new treatments must be developed.