TAMEST 2019 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards

2018 O'Donnell Awards

2019 O’Donnell awards recipients 

Changing our understanding of cancer. Creating new molecules. Discovering new ways that bacteria in the body can affect whether or not we get sick from viruses. And developing technology that results in lower levels of pollution and better fuel economy for vehicles.

These are the discoveries by Texas’ rising stars in research being honored with the 2019 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards by TAMEST.

The 2019 recipients of the O’Donnell Awards showcase the best and brightest in Texas research, whose creative work could have a lasting impact on our lives. 


His work is changing the way we think about the metabolism of cancer cells and yielding new strategies for treating disease.

Ralph DeBerardinis, M.D., Ph.D.

National Academy of Medicine: 2020

Ralph DeBerardinis, M.D., Ph.D., professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) is the recipient of the 2019 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine from TAMEST.

Dr. DeBerardinis is a pioneer in studying how altered metabolism leads to diseases in humans. His work in cancer metabolism has changed our understanding of how tumors reprogram metabolic pathways to maximize energy production and growth. By analyzing tumor metabolism directly in patients, he has identified unexpected fuels and pathways not observed in conventional studies performed in the laboratory. These include unexpected roles for mitochondria and lactic acid in fueling aggressive tumors. Discoveries from Dr. DeBerardinis have opened new avenues of study for therapies and imaging techniques.

Dr. DeBerardinis is also the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism at UT Southwestern and Director of the Genetic and Metabolic Disease Programat CRI.

Learn more about Dr. DeBerardinis and his discoveries >


What he is developing and doing right now with his metabolic techniques isn’t just for drugs or bioplastics – there may be new chemicals that can be designed that way. 

Hal S. Alper, Ph.D.

Hal S. Alper, Ph.D., of The University of Texas at Austin is the recipient of the 2019 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering from TAMEST.

Dr. Alper’s research looks for sustainable ways to create new molecules that can be used for plastics, drugs and other products that typically require petroleum products as a feedstock. His work has the potential to significantly reduce pollution in the chemical industry by reducing and reusing waste. His innovative, paradigm-changing approach could lead to new drugs and sustainable plastics at an industrial scale.

Dr. Alper is the Associate Chair and Paul D. & Betty Robertson Meek Centennial Professor in Chemical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

Learn more about Dr. Alper and his discoveries >



She has opened up a whole new way and platform for using antibacterial drugs to fight viral infections.

Julie Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

Julie Pfeiffer, Ph.D., of UT Southwestern Medical Center is the recipient of the 2019 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Science from TAMEST.

Dr. Pfeiffer’s groundbreaking work is re-defining how we think about life-threatening viral infections. She has discovered new ways that bacteria in the body can affect whether or not we get sick from viruses. Her research has shown that viruses in the gut rely on intestinal bacteria to infect us, resulting in a new discipline in microbiology. Thanks to her work, we now know that antibiotics can have antiviral effects, which is already driving research into new treatments for viruses.

Dr. Pfeiffer holds the Kern and Marnie Wildenthal President’s Research Council Professorship in Medical Science at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Learn more about Dr. Pfeiffer and her discoveries >


Technology Innovation

He loves to solve difficult problems. He continues to innovate on a daily basis.

Terrence F. Alger II, Ph.D.

Terrence F. Alger II, Ph.D., of the Southwest Research Institute is the recipient of the 2019 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Technology Innovation from TAMEST.

Dr. Alger is a true innovator whose work on vehicle engines is already resulting in lower levels of pollution and better fuel economy. He developed a technology known as Dedicated Exhaust Gas Recirculation, or D-EGR®, where exhaust gas from the engine is given back to the fresh air being drawn into the engine, cooling the air. This technology improves fuel economy up to 15 percent while also increasing engine performance. Dr. Alger’s work will help lead to a more sustainable transportation future and will make a big difference in how clean and efficient everyday cars are on the road.

Dr. Alger is a director in the Powertrain Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute.

Learn more about Dr. Alger and his discoveries >


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