Baylor College of Medicine researcher Dr. Thomas “Trey” Westbrook has been named The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas’ (TAMEST) 2015 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award winner in medicine, a prestigious honor given annually to one scientist across the state for outstanding innovation in medicine.
Westbrook, associate professor of molecular and human genetics and of biochemistry and molecular biology at Baylor, has made significant contributions to medicine by using novel technology developed in his lab to discover new genes that contribute to cancer.
“Dr. Westbrook is a recognized leader in cancer genetics. He developed transformative RNA interference screening technologies that have broadly impacted biomedical research nationally and internationally,” said Dr. Brendan Lee, interim chair of molecular and human genetics at Baylor. “Leveraging these innovations, he identified unique molecular vulnerabilities in human cancer that have culminated in new therapies for breast cancer patients.”
Some of Westbrook’s most recent work identified new genes that drive triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive and difficult to treat form of the disease with little understanding of the molecular and genetic mechanisms that lead to its development. This work has led directly to new therapies for patients with triple negative breast cancer that are being tested at BCM and elsewhere.
Westbrook is also a member of the NCI-designated Dan L Duncan Cancer Center, the Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Program, and the Program in Developmental Biology at Baylor.
Westbrook, along with the O’Donnell Award winners in engineering, science and technology innovation, will be honored during a special recognition ceremony at TAMEST’s 12th Annual conference at the Omni Hotel in Houston Jan. 22.
Initiated in 2006, the O’Donnell Awards are named in honor of Edith and Peter O’Donnell who are among the state’s staunchest advocates for excellence in scientific advancement and science, technology, engineering and medical education.