April 07, 2013
MD Anderson genetics chair Guillermina Lozano wins AACR lectureship
BY Scott Merville
The first of six awards to scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center at this year's AACR Annual Meeting 2013 went to Guillermina "Gigi" Lozano, Ph.D., chair and professor in the Department of Genetics.
Lozano Saturday received the 16th annual Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship awarded by The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recognizing her contributions to the field of cancer research and the advancement of women in science.
Lozano delivered her award lecture, "Activities of Mutant p53 Proteins in Cancer," Saturday evening.
Expert on tumor-suppressor p53 Lozano presented her research showing that the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin is more effective against breast cancer with mutant p53 rather than normal p53.
"It is an incredible honor to be in the same company as Dr. Friend, a researcher who has inspired future generations of female scientists looking to excel in their research," said Lozano. "What drives me is the hope that someday my research will translate into novel therapies targeting p53, ultimately impacting clinical care and saving the lives of patients affected by cancer." Lozano's lab at MD Anderson was the first to establish p53 as a transcriptional activator of other genes. Their landmark study published in Science in 1989 identified a p53 transactivation domain and showed that p53 mutants failed to activate transcription, paving the way for important discoveries regarding its mechanism in the development of numerous cancers including breast, colon, lung and ovarian cancer.
Her subsequent research provided the necessary mouse models to validate the critical gatekeeper role the protein Mdm2 plays in regulating p53 activity, as well as establishing the importance of dual functions of p53 in preventing tumor development where it not only forces cell death, but also halts a defective cell's ability to reproduce and helps maintain genomic stability. Most recently she has explored how mutant p53 proteins contribute to cancer development and treatment outcomes.
Lozano celebrates her 25th anniversary at MD Anderson this year. Over the course of her career, she has published 179 peer-reviewed articles in prestigious scientific journals, reviews and book chapters . She has devoted extensive efforts to teaching young scientists, an aspect of her work that she finds exceptionally rewarding.
Enjoys two-way learning of teaching "Not only do I love teaching and helping those who want to learn, but I also enjoy the two-way learning that takes place between the generations and the insights that occur as both aim to push the progress of cancer research," Lozano said. Twenty-five graduate students have received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees under her direction and she has trained 34 postdoctoral students and fellows in her lab.
She credits the mentorship of Arnold Levine, Ph.D., her postgraduate advisor at Princeton University and the discoverer of p53, and Peter Mueller of the Max Planck Institute for their guidance early in and throughout her career. "Their invaluable perspective has driven me to reach for goals I might never have dreamed of," Lozano said. She also is thankful for the support of her husband and daughter noting, "They keep me from doing too much at once."
Her research program has been supported by continuous funding from the National Cancer Institute. Other honors include the Sixth Annual AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship and a position on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). She was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011.
Lozano is a distinguished alumnus of both University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey - Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and The University of Texas Pan American. Lozano received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University and completed post-graduate work at Princeton University.