December 9, 2014

Kent Nutt
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TAMEST Announces Recipients of the 2015 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards

AUSTIN, Texas—The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas (TAMEST) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards. The recipients will be honored during a banquet on Thursday, January 22, 2015, in conjunction with TAMEST’s 12th Annual Conference at the Omni Houston Hotel in Houston, Texas.

The Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards recognize rising Texas researchers who are addressing the essential role that science and technology play in society, and whose work meets the highest standards of exemplary professional performance, creativity, and resourcefulness. The 2015 awards recipients are as follows:

  • MedicineThomas Westbrook, Ph.D., is a recognized leader in cancer genetics. He developed transformative shRNA screening technologies that have broadly impacted biomedical research. Leveraging these innovations, he identified unique molecular vulnerabilities including the concept of coordinated kinase dysregulation in human cancer that have culminated in new therapies for breast cancer patients. Dr. Westbrook is associate professor of molecular and human genetics as well as biochemistry and molecular biology at Baylor College of Medicine.
  • EngineeringHaiyan Wang, Ph.D., is recognized for her innovative research at the frontier of nanostructured materials in the areas of high temperature superconductors, microelectronic and optoelectronic devices, solid oxide fuel cells, nuclear materials, in situ TEM characterizations, and for her exceptional potential in inspired education and future leadership. Dr. Wang is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and holds a joint position in the Materials Science and Engineering Program at Texas A&M University.
  • ScienceYuh Min Chook, Ph.D., is recognized for redefining the field of protein transport into and out of the nucleus. She discovered a new class of nuclear-localization-signals and elucidated the molecular basis of nuclear-export-signal recognition. Her work explained the mechanism of ALS-disease mutations, permitted the design, and revealed mechanisms of new anti-cancer drugs with improved patient tolerance. Dr. Chook is a professor of pharmacology and biophysics as well as a Eugene McDermott Scholar in Biomedical Research at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
  • Technology InnovationCharles Collins, Ph.D., is a recognized expert in the field of engineering, and his contributions in the field of instrumentation engineering and optical systems are continuously reducing healthcare costs, improving patient outcomes, and changing the face of global life science research. His research has led to the development of several key patents that fostered new Luminex technologies, such as the award-winning MAGPIX system. Dr. Collins is vice president, Systems Research and Development at Luminex Corporation.

“The recipients of the 2015 O’Donnell Awards exemplify the innovative, life-changing research occurring in Texas,” said Dr. Bettie Sue Masters, TAMEST’s 2014 President. “With a focus on cancer genetics, nanostructured materials and devices, protein transport in and out of the cell nucleus, and instrumentation engineering and optical systems, these noteworthy Texans have made discoveries or developed technologies that will significantly impact our society today and for years to come.”

The O’Donnell Awards were first presented in 2006, and a total of $925,000 has been awarded to 40 recipients since the inception of the program. The awards are named in honor of Edith and Peter O’Donnell who are among Texas’ staunchest advocates for excellence in scientific advancement and STEM education.

TAMEST’s 12th Annual Conference—Cancer: A Texas-Sized Problem—will be held on January 22-23, 2015, and will feature a program on the epidemiology, genetics, initiation, progression, and treatments all designed to attack the cancer problem.

View the 2015 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards video trailer online at

Read more about the 2015 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards recipients at

For further information about the TAMEST 2015 Annual Conference, please visit


TAMEST is what comes before the change you see in our state. A nonprofit and a brain trust for Texas, TAMEST convenes influential experts to promote cross-industry and cross-disciplinary knowledge sharing. Through TAMEST, research collides with industry. Our members make new discoveries, lay the groundwork for tackling critical issues, and change the course of funding, legislation, and society. With 270+ members, TAMEST is composed of the Texas-based members of the three National Academies (Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Sciences) and the state’s 10 Nobel Laureates. TAMEST brings the state’s top scientific, academic, and corporate minds together to further position Texas as a national research leader. TAMEST also fosters the next generation of scientists and facilitates awareness and communication among the state’s best and brightest about research priorities for the future. More information is available at

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