TAMEST Names Nidhi Sahni, Ph.D., as the Recipient of the 2024 Mary Beth Maddox Award & Lectureship

2024 MBM Award Announcement
TAMEST (Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, Science and Technology) has announced Nidhi Sahni, Ph.D., The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, as the recipient of the 2024 Mary Beth Maddox Award and Lectureship in cancer research. She was chosen for her role in identifying novel biomarkers and drug targets, which are expected to have a significant impact on cancer by translating into more effective prognosis and therapy for the disease.

The Mary Beth Maddox Award and Lectureship recognizes women scientists in Texas bringing new ideas and innovations to the fight against cancer. It was established in 2022 in honor of Mary Beth Maddox, former Executive Director of TAMEST, who passed away after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Sahni is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis at MD Anderson. She pioneered “functional variomics” as an approach to identify mechanisms by which DNA sequence variation impacts diseases, establishing a new field with major impact on precision oncology, early detection and therapeutics in cancer.

Dr. Sahni’s research program involves a combination of experimental and computational biology that focuses on genotype and phenotype relationships in cancer. Her work has led to better understanding of signal transduction networks through which chemical signals are transmitted through the cell as a series of molecular events, and how these events impact the biological characteristics of the cell. She has a broad background in systems biology, bioinformatics and human genetics and her research findings establish that in stark contrast to common genetic variants, disease-causing mutations tend to perturb molecular interactions in signaling networks, shaping cellular properties.

Her lab is focused on the systems biology of human cancer and integrates high-throughput experimental platforms with large-scale computational genomics to address fundamental problems in the modern era of personalized or precision medicine. She seeks a systems-level understanding of the underlying genetic and epigenetic irregularities in cancer heterogeneity and immunity. Her research is helping to build a systematic and quantitative understanding of molecular mechanisms in cancer.

“Dr. Sahni is an interdisciplinary leader in systems biology and computational medicine and has made unique, original and significant contributions to cancer research by seeking to understand a fundamental question in biology, namely the genotype-phenotype relationships in cancer,” said Nominator and TAMEST Member Anil K. Sood, M.D. (NAM), MD Anderson. “The novel biomarkers and drug targets her work has identified will truly transform outcomes for cancer patients and I am thrilled the Mary Beth Maddox Award committee agrees that she is deserving of this honor.”

“It’s unusual to find someone with Dr. Sahni’s computational skills who can also use experimental biology to define new molecular mechanisms in cancer cell biology,” said Mary Beth Maddox Committee Chair Ralph J. DeBerardinis, M.D., Ph.D. (NAM), UT Southwestern Medical Center. “She has already made many contributions to our understanding of complex signal transduction networks, and the committee feels that Dr. Sahni’s focus and trajectory are exactly what the Mary Beth Maddox Awards seeks to recognize. We cannot wait to see how discoveries will influence cancer outcomes in the years to come.”

Dr. Sahni will be honored at the TAMEST 2024 Annual Conference, where she will present her research to attendees and also receive a $5,000 honorarium and award. The conference will be held February 5–7, 2024, at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center in Austin, Texas.

In addition to being honored at the TAMEST Annual Conference, Dr. Sahni will promote her work and discoveries across the state at established lecture and seminar series at TAMEST member institutions with NIH National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Centers:

· Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine
· John H. Blaffer Lecture Series, MD Anderson Cancer Center
· Mays Cancer Center Grand Rounds, UT Health San Antonio
· Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center

The award covers the recipient’s travel and lodging for the lectures and includes organized visits and networking at the NCI Cancer Centers.


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