Dent combines research with training scientists
By Mary Jane Schier
Frequent family trips to the library, an aquarium and the zoo helped fuel her interest in becoming a science teacher. Today, Sharon Dent, Ph.D., has surpassed her early goal.
“I’m fortunate to combine fascinating basic science research with training future scientists,” says Dent, who last summer was named chair of the Department of Molecular Carcinogenesis and administrative director of MD Anderson’s Science Park-Research Division in Smithville, Texas.
Dent joined MD Anderson as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1993 and advanced to professor in 2004. Three years later, she was appointed her department’s deputy chair plus co-director of the Center for Cancer Epigenetics, a post she still holds.
Dent attributes her success as a teaching scientist to “incredible opportunities” at MD Anderson.
She has become a leader in research focused on understanding the role of chromatin remodeling in normal cell growth and development while directly mentoring 35 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and advising more than 150 others.
“I love discovering new things and working with bright young scientists whose enthusiasm inspires me,” she says.
Dent is excited about the educational programs at Science Park, where 26 students in The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences are pursuing advanced degrees, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant supports efforts to promote science and health education in Central Texas.