Susan L. Hamilton, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

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Susan L. Hamilton, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Susan Lois Hamilton, chair of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, received her Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Colorado Health Science Center in Denver and did her postdoctoral work in the Department of Neurology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City.

Dr. Hamilton serves as the editor-in-chief of Physiological Reviews and is a member of both the MDA Scientific Advisory Committee and the SMEP NIH study section. Her area of research is skeletal muscle excitation-contraction coupling and human diseases associated with alterations in this process. Her research is funded by four NIH R01 grants, a project of NIH program project grant with investigators from Harvard, and a grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She is also the program director for a NIH training grant in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. Dr. Hamilton chairs the ECPRAC committee for Endowed Chairs and serves on the Faculty Promotions and Tenure Committee and on the Best Minds Faculty Cabinet. Dr. Hamilton helped to found the Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine Graduate Program and the Mouse Phenotyping Core.

Brendan Lee, M.D., Chair, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics

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Dr. Brendan Lee

Dr. Brendan Lee took on responsibilities as department chair in December 2014 after serving as interim chair since June 2014. 

Lee, a member of the Institute of Medicine, also serves as a professor in the genetics department, as well as co-director of the Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Bone Disease Program of Texas, a collaboration of Baylor and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and as director of the Center for Skeletal Medicine and Biology at Baylor.

He holds the Robert and Janice McNair Endowed Chair in Molecular and Human Genetics and is the founder and director of the Skeletal Dysplasia Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Lee is an internationally recognized geneticist. His research centers on understanding how gene mutations affect skeletal development and combines laboratory studies with clinical research involving patients with skeletal problems. Another important area of research for Lee is metabolic disorders or energy regulation.

Lee and colleagues were recently awarded two large NIH grants which Lee will serve as principal investigator. They include a $7.3 million, four-year grant on a study at Baylor to join a national network of clinicians and scientists joining forces to address prolonged undiagnosed medical conditions and a $6.25 million, five-year grant to lead a multi-center initiative that will focus on understanding and providing better therapeutic options for brittle bone disorder.

As an M.D./Ph.D. student at State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center in the late 1980s, he was first to clone two genes for connective tissue diseases – Marfan syndrome and spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia. He completed both his medical and doctorate degrees at SUNY and then his pediatric residency and two genetics fellowships at Baylor.

As an educator, Lee is a mentor to medical and graduate students, and directs the Medical Student Research Track at Baylor. The track gives medical students who do not want to pursue a Ph.D. the chance to do research in the laboratory.

Along with genetics, he is a professor in the Program in Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences, Program in Developmental Biology and Program in Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine.

Lee is the recipient of many awards and honors, and was recently named as one of the 2014 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Bert W. O'Malley, M.D., Chair, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

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Bert W. O'Malley, M.D., Chair, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Bert W. O'Malley, is chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. O'Malley received his bachelor's from the University of Pittsburgh and his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He did his internship and residency at Duke University Medical School in Chapel Hill, N.C.

In 1965, he became a clinical associate at the National Cancer Institute and in 1967, was named to the molecular biology section of the Endocrine Branch of the NCI. From 1969-1973, he was professor and Occupant of Lucius Birch Chair and director of the Reproductive Biology Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. He came to Houston in 1973 as the Tom Thompson Professor and chair of the Department of Cell Biology (now the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology) and director of the Baylor Center for Reproductive Biology.

O'Malley holds numerous honorary degrees and is the recipient of many awards. He is the author of more than 600 items and is the holder of 19 patents for special techniques and inventions developed in the study of his field.

Timothy Palzkill, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology

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Timothy Palzkill, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology

Dr. Timothy Palzkill is a professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology. He also serves as the academic chair for the Cullen Trust for Higher Education. Palzkill earned his undergraduate degree from Creighton University and received his Ph.D. from the University Of Iowa. He completed his post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

Palzkill is interested in protein structure/function and functional genomics. Currently, his lab is focused on the following fields: Molecular basis of serine and metallo β-lactamase-mediated antibiotic resistance, development of Norovirus diagnostic tools and therapeutics, and molecular recognition in protein-protein interactions. To investigate these and other diverse projects currently underway in the lab, various tools such as phage display, ELISAs, surface plasmon resonance, peptide synthesis, protein purification, enzyme kinetics, and X-Ray crystallography are used.

Joseph Petrosino, Ph.D., Interim Chair, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Virology

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Director of CMMR, Joseph Petrosino

Joseph Petrosino is a professor in the Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology and is the director of the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research.

He is a nationally recognized leader in metagenomics research with extensive research funding. The center is an international hub for the development and implementation of advanced technologies for the understanding of how the microbiome impacts health and disease, and for the translation of this knowledge into microbiome-based therapeutics and diagnostics.

A graduate of University of Rochester, Petrosino received a Ph.D. and advance training from Baylor.

Paul Pfaffinger, Ph.D., Interim Chair, Department of Neuroscience

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Paul Pfaffinger, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Neuroscience

Dr. Paul Pfaffinger, a professor of Neuroscience and a member of the Baylor faculty for 25 years, serves as interim chair of the department. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington with advanced training in Molecular Neuroscience from Columbia University. He holds secondary appointments in the Graduate Program in Quantitative and Computational Biosciences and the Molecular Physiology Department and membership in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center and the Center for Drug Discovery. He is the author of over 50 peer reviewed journal articles. Pfaffinger also has a long standing commitment to education, and teaches and is course director for both the Graduate School and Medical school. He has won numerous teaching awards for both didactic teaching and mentoring.

Pfaffinger’s lab focuses on understanding the regulation of ion channels and their roles in native neurons. He has made important contributions to our understanding of ion channel regulation by G-protein coupled receptors, the assembly and trafficking of ion channels, and the mechanisms by which auxiliary subunit proteins are involved in driving diverse functional expression of ion channels from a relatively small number of genes.  Currently, research in his lab is focusing on understanding the roles of channel diversity in information processing as well as the biophysical mechanisms underlying ion channel regulation by small peptide modulators and the role of this regulation in the brain.

Theodore G. Wensel, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Theodore G. Wensel, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Dr. Theodore G. Wensel is the chair of the Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry.

Dr. Wensel received his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1984 from the University of California, Davis. He joined the Baylor faculty in 1988 after completing his postdoctoral work at Stanford University.

Dr. Wensel holds the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry and also has faculty appointments in the Departments of Neuroscience, Ophthalmology and Pharmacology. He is a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and serves as Director of the Houston Area Molecular Biophysics Program.

Thomas M. Wheeler, M.D., Chair, Department of Pathology and Immunology

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Thomas M. Wheeler, M.D., Chair, Department of Pathology and Immunology

Dr. Thomas M. Wheeler is a professor of pathology and urology, and chair of the Department of Pathology and Immunology. Wheeler also serves as deputy chief of service at The Methodist Hospital and director of the pathology core of the SPORE in prostate cancer. He is a leading expert in prostate cancer diagnosis and research.

Wheeler completed both his medical degree and residency at Baylor College of Medicine. He serves as a governor of the College of American Pathologists and is the 1999 recipient of the CAP Foundation's Herbert Lansky Memorial Award. He has held numerous leadership positions with the CAP, including as a member of the House of Delegates, chair of the Federal and State Affairs Committee and as a member of the Council on Government and Professional Affairs. In 2007 he received the George T. Caldwell, M.D., Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Society of Pathologists.

He is the author of many publications and has served as a reviewer or on the editorial board for numerous journals.